Water Shortage in IndiaIndia is one of the world’s largest consumers of water, as the country has an undeniably large population. Yet, reservoirs run dry and millions don’t have access to safe drinking water. Three note-worthy causes of water shortage in India are listed.

Droughts

Droughts are widely accredited as one of the notable causes of water shortage in India. The country relies primarily on groundwater for consumption and agricultural sustenance. Many sources of groundwater in India, such as Chennai’s Lake Puzhal, depend on heavy monsoon rains for replenishment. Late or short monsoons can cause shortages in the region’s expected water gain. Thus, the amount of water received is lower, as is the time the water lasts before being depleted.

The monsoon season in India is usually expected to start in June and end in September, bringing three months of rain before the dry season. Some regions, like Mumbai on the west coast, receive more rain. Other areas, like urban Chennai in the south, receive significantly less rain from the main monsoon.

In recent years, India has experienced weaker monsoon rains than usual. Weak monsoon rains result in a decrease in groundwater supply, which has a negative effect on crop production and can often lead to the failure of high-water-consumption crops like rice and wheat.

One promising practice to repair groundwater and increase drinking water in India is rainwater harvesting. Much of India’s rainwater dries up and is unused. National Geographic posits that Chennai could harvest 27 gallons of water per person, based on rainwater catchment alone. Moreover, Chennai could use recharge wells to channel rainwater into its natural, underground water aquifers to replenish the supply of groundwater. A group called mannu-vaddars have already initiated open well-digging in the city.

Water Pollution

With over one billion people in the country, some 163 million lack access to safe water in India. The health of many Indian rivers is depleted by severe pollution. Most of India’s water pollution can be credited to unfiltered human sewage. Water sewage is one of the major causes of water shortage in India’s drinking water.

It is estimated that some 21 percent of infectious diseases in India are linked to unsanitary drinking water. Poor hygiene practices also lead to unsafe drinking water, as the water often contains traces of human feces if unfiltered. Each day, over 500 children die from diarrhea, which can occur as a result of water-borne bacterial infections and viruses.

Delhi has seen increases in diarrheal, hepatitis and typhoid infections. These diseases have been linked to the Yamuna River, Delhi’s source of drinking water. The river’s best potential for clean water comes during the monsoons when rainwater flushes out a portion of pollution. Recently, Delhi Jal Board, the government agency that oversees Delhi’s water supply, required that rainwater harvesting systems be installed in all plots over 500 square meters in Delhi. If enforced, the systems will be used to recharge Delhi’s underground water aquifers to replenish groundwater sources.

Agricultural Irrigation

Agriculture accounts for about 90 percent of India’s water usage, with domestic and industrial use sharing the remaining 10 percent. Agriculture is extremely important for the country’s nourishment and economy, providing jobs to half of the population and accounting for 18 percent of the country’s GDP. Because agriculture drastically drains the country’s water supply, the practice contributes significantly to water shortage in India.

India’s agricultural sector is thought to overexploit the groundwater supply. When compared to China, another highly agricultural society, India uses significantly more irrigation for less crop production. Both countries produce rice and wheat, crops that require high irrigation, with India producing 40 percent less than China.

With help from the World Bank, some communities, like those of Andhra Pradesh, have established a model of self-regulation in regards to groundwater. The model includes successful education of farmers which has caused some farmers in the communities to decrease their groundwater use to sustainable levels, without losing out on profit. It is possible for this approach to be replicated in other Indian agricultural communities that rely on groundwater for crop production.

Today, India is facing its worst water crisis. Chennai, a mega-city, has brought the country’s attention to the water crisis and researcher’s attention to the causes of water shortage in India. Understanding the causes will help shape a solution.

– Rebekah Askew
Photo: Flickr

Water Management in SomaliaSomalia is a South African country frequently plagued by droughts and floods. The nation is currently receiving the bulk of a $45 million assistance from the United Nations’ aid meant to help Ethiopians, Kenyans and Somalis suffering from a major famine caused by the ongoing drought. To break this cycle of famine, an efficient and affordable water management system in Somalia is desperately needed.

Infrastructure Improvement

The majority of Somalis depend on livestock and agriculture for income. Yet, frequent floods and droughts result in a lack of basic necessities, such as food and water. One way to reduce this lack is to implement an intelligent system capable of storing water during floods to preserve it for coming droughts. Reusing greywater, which is water from sources such as sinks and bathtubs, is one efficient way of preserving and reusing water for crops. Somalia thus needs infrastructure development to control floodwater, especially in the construction of aquifers.

Most Somalis live along the Juba and Shabelle Rivers, but many depend on groundwater. Dug wells, boreholes and springs are the most common sources of water. Somalis heavily rely on groundwater, however, it does not provide enough water in times of drought. The Somalian Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) partnered with the European Union and Somaliland to improve infrastructure, water and land management. Dr. Hjordis Ogendo of the EU Chard d’Affairs said, “Water and land are critical resources for Somali economy and people’s livelihoods but are also extremely vulnerable to natural disasters.”

Floodplains and Groundwater Replenishment

Infrastructure improvements could help mitigate the cost of restoring the land and relocating those who return to destroyed homes. These improvements include through-reservoirs and flood canals that divert water away from farms and homes. Moreover, California farmers have recently begun implementing floodplains and groundwater replenishment strategies. Don Cameron of Terranova Ranch experimented with flooding his 1,000-acre land with water from a river that was high from recent rains.

Cameron was concerned about the amount of water in the reservoir during a long drought after repeatedly digging wells. The replenishment strategy enables water to soak into the ground and collect in an aquifer. As such, Cameron’s grapevines remained unharmed. This began a trend to keep a steady amount of water in the aquifer and above ground.

For Somalis, an affordable method could be as simple as storing water in aquifers to combat future droughts. Therefore, the floodplains and groundwater replenishment strategy presents one prospective Somali water management system that could improve the future outlook of drought mitigation.

Water Desalination Plants

A sophisticated and long-term solution for a water management system in Somalia includes water desalination plants. Although desalination plants are expensive, there are positive and lasting aspects of investing in a single plant. Desalination plants simply transform salt water from the ocean or sea into potable water. Israel currently receives 40 percent of its water from desalination plants. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water usage. Since more than 70 percent of Somalis work in the agriculture industry, water availability is crucial.

Future technological advances may reduce the high cost of constructing and operating desalination plants. Saudi Arabia also relies on desalination plants to desalinate seawater. As a semi-arid country, Somalia possesses an environment similar to that of Saudi Arabia. Although comparatively poor, Somalia could opt for desalination plants in the future once technological advances reduce implementation costs.

Future Outlook

With the help of funding a future water management system in Somalia, the need for external aid could be reduced and lead Somalia out of poverty conditions that result from devastating floods and droughts. Desalination plants are an expensive alternative, yet simple solutions such as the construction of aquifers to store floodwater could help millions of Somalis affected by droughts and floods. The implementation depends on the Somali government and its efforts in improving infrastructure. This includes not only managing water during floods and droughts but also reducing poverty by helping the nomadic herders and farmers making up the majority of Somalis.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in IndiaIndia is home to approximately 16 percent of the world’s population. However, India only holds about 4 percent of the world’s freshwater, leaving 76 million Indians without access to safe drinking water. The water crisis in India worsens each year as precipitation becomes more unreliable and groundwater sources run dry. More than 500 people in Chennai, India’s sixth-largest city, were arrested during protests in front of the municipal government on June 19. Protesters blame the government for the water crisis as a result of “negligence and mismanagement.”

Background

Usually, June is the start of monsoon season in Chennai. Precipitation levels are only half of what they should be. June 20 was the first major rainfall of the year, 29 millimeters. This was more than the total documented rainfall since December. Furthermore, Chennai’s basic infrastructure system is unable to efficiently store water during rainstorms to save for periods of drought. The rivers fill quickly and often flood. Meanwhile, 91 percent of the water flows into the ocean where it is no longer drinkable. Chennai is the first major city to experience a water crisis in India this severe.

The four largest reservoirs around Chennai have run dry. They are not expected to fill until November. The government is currently shipping water directly into Chennai, where thousands of residents wait in line for their share. Once residents receive their water, they must carry over a dozen pots back home for their families. People have resorted to violence, fighting over water or hijacking water trucks, to survive.

How Did This Happen?

There are two sources of water in the world: surface water and groundwater. Around 700 million Indians rely on groundwater as their main source of drinking water. But groundwater is only supposed to be a buffer resource in case of drought. Additionally, monsoon season’s unpredictability over the last few years has prevented groundwater from replenishing. For instance, between 2002 and 2012, groundwater depletion rates in Chennai were 8 percent faster than recharge.

Protesters blame the government for the water crisis in India because of the lack of regulation to protect groundwater has left reservoirs dry. India uses more groundwater than any other country, using about 25 percent of all groundwater extracted in the world. Unlike surface water, the Indian government does not regulate groundwater. The Easement Act of 1882 gives landowners the right to collect water under their land despite it being a shared resource. In other words, the lack of regulation gave way to the tragedy of the commons. Individuals acted independently to advance their own interests without worrying about the consequences of over-exploitation and depletion for the community.

Future Effects

Chennai’s geological systems are susceptible to quick depletion because of its shallow crystalline aquifers with little storage room for water. Additionally, crystalline rock has low permeability, which drastically decreased recharge rates during rainfall. These conditions caused almost immediate depletion. However, water insecurity will continue to worsen across other parts of India with different geological structures as more groundwater is over-exploited.

If they continue to exploit groundwater at this rate, 40 percent of the population will not have access to drinking water by 2030. Furthermore, 21 cities will run out of groundwater by 2020. Lastly, by the year 2050, 6 percent of GDP will be lost.

Potential Solutions

Replenishing groundwater is essential to ending the water crisis in India. However, as monsoon season brings unreliable rainfall, communities must search for other ways to refill aquifers. One idea is to desalinate seawater. About 25 percent of India’s population, including residents of Chennai, live along the water. Currently, desalinated water makes up 40 percent of Chennai’s supply. However, this is not enough to end the water crisis. Desalination requires too high of costs and energy consumption for a fuel-poor country. The Desalination Journal conducted a study in 2014. The study found that solar energy can desalinate water. However, desalination cannot produce water at a sustainable monetary cost.

The government must find other solutions to the severe water crisis in India. Leaving the rights of groundwater to landowners will continue to lead to further depletion. It will take a large government commitment to reverse the effects of the water crisis in India and provide its residents with sufficient access to clean water.

– Haley Myers
Photo: Flickr

India water crisisIndia’s dry season has been notably harsh in 2019, and the country is suffering its lowest rainfall before a monsoon season in six decades. Just under half the population is facing a drought and dozens have died from the combination of a heat wave and a lack of water. The India water crisis is also causing evacuations as the drought is forcing families to leave their homes in search of water.

Chennai, India’s sixth largest city, is facing extreme water scarcity. The reservoir water supply shrank between 2018 and 2019 and is almost entirely drained of water.

Effect of the Drought

Experts blame the severe drought on mismanaged resources along with industrial and human waste, bad policy decisions and climate change. Thirty-two states have organized a State Action Plan on Climate Change in order to achieve national as well as regional priorities. But many farmers claim the government plan has not been carried out. “There is a lack of interest among politicians and the bureaucracy, which is keen to look for temporary solutions to drought and climate change impacts,” stated agricultural and climate change researcher Atul Deulgaonkar.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the drought has not only affected the monsoon and winter crops but also destroyed supplementary crops. Because agriculture is the most important sector of its economy, India is heavily reliant on monsoon rains. The drought is particularly dangerous for marginalized farmers in rural areas. Approximately 80 percent of districts in Karnataka and 72 percent in Maharashtra are faced with crop failure, which has put the livelihood of eight million farmers in jeopardy.

Solutions to the Crisis

However, there are solutions to the crisis such as reducing the need for the enormous amounts of water used for crops. Because agriculture accounts for nearly 90 percent of India’s water consumption, reducing the dependence on water-intensive crops and agricultural methods would substantially increase water for drinking and make farmers less vulnerable to water shortages. Environmental scientist Kyle Davis stated, “Diversifying the crops that a country grows can be an effective way to adapt its food-production systems to the growing influence of climate change.” In addition, the use of alternative grains can improve nutrition and reduce greenhouse emissions from agriculture.

Other steps are currently underway for alleviating the water crisis. In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed an $87 billion plan to reduce flooding and improve irrigation by linking 60 rivers across India. So far only 16 rivers have been linked and the effect of this plan is yet to be determined. Some Indian states such as Maharashtra have followed the example of Israel and implemented a drip irrigation method, which involves dripping water onto individual plants through tubes or pipes rather than flooding whole fields.

Whatever the means, the India water crisis must come to an end. One-hundred million children in India lack water and one out of every two are underfed. Water security must be guaranteed in India amidst rising temperatures and falling water tables so families can raise their children with dignity and health in the upcoming century. A slew of solutions indicate hope for the future, though.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Pixabay

Zimba ChlorinatorNearly 780 million people lack access to clean drinking water. People living in third-world countries have no choice but to drink unclean water, which can lead to diseases such as cholera, Guinea worm disease, typhoid, and dysentery. Upward of 3.5 million people, most of whom are children, pass away annually as a result of these waterborne illnesses.

As Zimba’s website reports, “Most developing countries do not have the infrastructure required for the supply of treated piped water to each and every household.” The lack of proper plumbing drives consumers to use alternate methods of water purification. Adding chlorine to unsafe water can make it drinkable, but a lot of guesswork may be involved in deciding just how much chlorine is needed to make the water safe to drink. Zimba, a point-of-use water chlorinator, eliminates the need for guessing.

Suprio Das and the Zimba Chlorinator

Prior to his invention of the Zimba chlorinator, Suprio Das had been working as an electrical engineer in Kolkata, where he witnessed the devastation caused by drinking contaminated water. In India, about 1,600 children die daily from drinking contaminated water. He decided to create something that could help people gain access to clean drinking water.

He knew he needed to design a chlorinator that is easy to use as well as durable. The final product weighs 12 kilograms (approximately 26 pounds). The exterior is composed of fiberglass, which helps it withstand years of use and weathering, while the interior is made of virgin polypropylene plastic. Another impressive trait about the chlorinator is that it can be placed on preexisting water sources like hand pumps, taps or faucets, with installation time being less than thirty minutes. Rather than relying on electricity, the chlorinator is gravity-powered, and it can purify thousands of liters of water a day.

How the Chlorinator Works

The purification process begins when water is filled in the top of the device. The pressure triggers the release of a premeasured dose of liquid chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) into the water being held in a storage tank. There, the water is exposed to the chlorine for about thirty minutes, which is the amount of time the World Health Organization recommends. The clean water then flows into the main tank and awaits retrieval from the tap.

Impact of the Chlorinator

As of 2018, Zimba chlorinators are being used in India, Bangladesh, Kenya and the Dominican Republic. And Zimba experts believe that the use of the chlorinator can help save the lives of 1.5 million children between 2015 and 2030. It has even been included in PATH’s Innovation Countdown 2030 report as a product that promises to contribute to health improvements in the next fifteen years.

In a country that has unlimited access to clean drinking water by way of public water fountains, water filtration systems and proper plumbing, it is hard to imagine the difficulties people face just to get a sip of water that is safe to consume. With the help of the Zimba chlorinator, people living in underdeveloped nations have easier access to purified water.

— Sareen Mekhitarian
Photo: Flickr

Centers of Excellence
Egypt and the United States have recently become dependent on each other in order to assist in each other’s growth, developments and establishments, showing a strong partnership between the two countries. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has collaborated with Egypt to create three academic Centers of Excellence that will focus on research about agriculture, energy and water. In order to begin the process of these academic Centers of Excellence, universities in the United States and Egypt had to form partnerships to focus on each focal point.

Academic Center of Excellence in Agriculture

The United States’ Cornell University and Egypt’s Cairo University are partners for the Academic Center of Excellence in Agriculture (COEA). This is a $30 million dollar, five-year collaborative project that will enhance curricula and research in order to train and equip Egyptian students with the right tools to improve agricultural production in Egypt’s future.

There are three main components of this specific center. The first is the instructional innovation and curriculum development of the academic center. The partnership will establish a new interdisciplinary Master of Science program that will be work-force oriented. This center will also grant opportunities to youth, women and disadvantaged students. The second component is to engage in high quality applied research. The last component includes exchanges, training and scholarship programs.

Academic Center of Excellence in Energy

The next $30 million dollar, five-year collaborative partnership is between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ain Shams University. This will be the Academic Center of Excellence in Energy (COEE). MIT and Ain Shams University will work to build research, education and entrepreneurial capacity to address Egypt’s most pressing energy-related issues.

This academic Center of Excellence has four major components to it. The first is the teaming up of Egyptian faculty and students with interdisciplinary researchers across MIT to develop renewable energy solutions. The next component is to advance and scale up sustainable projects. These universities will also use their partnership to facilitate connections between university researchers and key industrial players in the region to expand Egypt’s solar and wind usage, in addition to other forms of clean energy. Lastly, there will be an emphasis on involving Egyptian women and people with disabilities in the university and providing programs and education for them.

The Center of Excellence in Water

The Center of Excellence in Water (COEW) is a partnership between the American University in Cairo and Alexandria University. The COEW is also a $30 million dollar, five-year collaborative project. These universities are still developing their partnership.

The Centers of Excellence was designed by the USAID and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific research with the goal of driving public and private sector innovation, modernization and competitiveness. This $90 million dollar investment will create partnerships between Egyptian public universities and U.S. universities, update university curricula and teaching methods, establish undergraduate and graduate level scholarships and implement exchange programs to foster cross-border learning. This is a breakthrough in education and the professional industry which will work to enhance Egypt as a whole.

– Lari’onna Green
Photo: Flickr

Safe, Quality Drinking WaterOn May 24, 2019, thousands of residents from poor neighborhoods in Lima, Peru protested business litigation that has been obstructing their access to drinking water. The demand for safe drinking water, a necessity for any lifeform to thrive, is, unfortunately, a common obstacle in South America. Several countries struggle in providing this vital resource to its citizens, especially in rural areas with poorer communities. However, other countries are successfully paving a path to ensuring access to drinking water and sanitation facilities. Here are a few facts about safe drinking water throughout South America.

Access to Safe Drinking Water in South America

  • Peru: Thirty-one million people live in Peru, but 3 million don’t have access to safe drinking water, and 5 million people don’t have access to improved sanitation. While more than 90 percent of Peruvian residents have access to improved drinking water, in rural areas, access drops to below 70 percent. Likewise, urban areas offer sanitation facility access to 82.5 percent of the population, but barely over 50 percent of people in rural communities, highlighting the drastic disparity between socioeconomic and regional populations.
  • Brazil: Similarly, shortcomings in providing safe, quality drinking water exist in South America’s largest country, Brazil. With a population of 208 million, 5 million Brazilians lack access to safe drinking water, and 25 million people, more than 8 percent of the population, don’t have access to sanitation facilities. While 100 percent of the urban population has access to drinking water, in rural areas the percentage drops to 87. The numbers take another hit when it comes to access to sanitation facilities. Eighty-eight percent of the urban population has this access, but almost half of the people in rural populations lack proper sanitation facilities.
  • Argentina: A similar narrative occurs in Argentina, where urban populations might have decent access to safe, quality drinking water and sanitation facilities, but the numbers drop off concerning rural and lower socioeconomic communities which struggle in having their needs and demands addressed by the government. Typical causes for low-quality drinking water include pollution, urbanization and unsustainable forms of agriculture.
  • Uruguay: In stark contrast, Uruguay has available safe drinking water for 100 percent of urban populations, almost 94 percent in rural populations, over 96 percent for improved access to sanitation facilities for urban populations and almost 94 percent for rural populations. The World Bank participated in the success of transforming Uruguay’s access to drinking water, which suffered in the 1980s, by offering loans to the main utility provider. The World Bank and other developers financially assisted Obras Sanitarias del Estado (OSE), the public utility that now provides drinking water to more than 98 percent of Uruguayans, in addition to providing more than half of the sanitation utilities in Uruguay. In addition to finances, these partners aid in ensuring quality operation standards such as upholding accountability, preventing unnecessary water loss, implementing new wastewater treatment plants in rural areas and protecting natural water sources such as the Santa Lucia river basin.
  • Bolivia: Like Uruguay, Bolivia made recent strides in improving access to safe, quality drinking water. They began by meeting the Millenium Development goal of cutting in half the number of people without access to improved drinking water by 2015. President Evo Morales, “a champion of access to water and sanitation as a human right,” leads to a path for the next step which is to achieve universal access to drinking water by 2020 and sanitation by 2025. Bolivia also recently invested $2.9 billion for drinking water access, irrigation systems and sanitation. In 2013, Morales addressed the United Nations calling for access to water and sanitation as a human right. Dedicated to his cause, he leads Bolivia in surpassing most other countries on the continent in ensuring these essential amenities to his constituents.

Unfortunately, the progress of Bolivia and Uruguay doesn’t transcend all borders within South America, as millions still feel neglected by their governments due to not having regular, affordable, safe, quality access to clean drinking water.

– Keeley Griego
Photo: Flickr

Wastewater in India
India is not only one of the most populated countries in the world, but it is also one of the poorest. In addition to poverty, India is grappling with a lack of access to clean water and increasing pollution. This not only takes a toll on households but also affects industrial and agricultural demands. Urban runoff is an issue when domestic waste and untreated water go into storm drains, polluting lakes and rivers. Approximately only 30 percent of the wastewater in India is cleaned and filtered.

The U.S. Agency for International Development teamed up with a nongovernmental organization, Agra Municipal Corporation, to formulate a treatment plan to clean the wastewater in India.

What is Being Done?

North of the Taj Mahal runs the Yamuna River, one of the most polluted waterways in India. Agra, the city through which the river runs, is a slum community. As of 2009, this community has had no access to sanitation facilities, disposal systems or waste collection. At least 85 percent of the residents in Agra have resorted to open defecation that ultimately pollutes the Yamuna River, where residents collect drinking water. This lack of sanitation has left the community vulnerable to diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.

USAID-supported NGO Center for Urban and Regional Excellence decided to reverse the state of Agra and come up with a treatment plan. In 2011, they built a wastewater treatment plant to clean the water, leading to healthier community members. Instead of chemicals, the treatment plant uses natural methods to sanitize the water. Moreover, they designed the plant to be low-maintenance, thus keeping it cost-efficient. After filtering and sanitizing the water, it flows back into the community for residents to collect.

As of 2017, the Agra Municipal Corporation, who initially teamed up with USAID, took over operating the plant. And they made it their mission to continue working to improve the lives of the residents.

The Progress

The Center for Urban and Regional Excellence’s transformation of Agra influenced the government to also act. As a result, the government planned to cleanse the entire country by the end of 2019. On Oct. 2, 2014, the Prime Minister of India declared the Swachh Bharat Mission. At the time, only 38.7 percent of the country was clean—less than half. As of 2019, India’s government reported 98.9 percent of the country is now clean. Since the mission began, they built 9,023,034,753 household toilets and established

  • 5,054,745 open defecation-free villages,
  • 4,468 open defecation-free villages in Namami Gange,
  • 613 open defecation-free districts, and
  • 29 open defecation-free states.

Less than 2 percent away from meeting their goal, India has made big improvements to better the lives of its citizens by providing clean water for domestic and industrial purposes.

Lari’onna Green
Photo: Flickr

Podcasts for Perspective: Three Shows Raising Global Inequality Awareness Since podcasting began to take off, this audio medium has really carved out a significant space for itself in American media with its on-demand, radio-like content. According to Edison Research’s 2018 podcast statistic report, 26 percent of Americans (73 million people) listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. Podcasts are easily available online or through any smart device and target virtually every interest and topic, including global inequality awareness.

Whether someone is new to podcasts or a regular listener, they are a great way to learn new things, expand people’s interests and gain perspectives on different topics. Below, are three suggestions for globally-minded podcasts. Though each of these podcasts has a different focus, they all contribute to raising awareness for global inequality issues relating to poverty.

Hacking Hunger

Produced by World Food Program U.S.A., Hacking Hunger shares stories about hunger from around the globe. Hacking Hunger connects listeners to the voices of aid workers and families involved with the World Food Program. By highlighting direct experiences, this podcast helps listeners imagine the realities of hunger from refugee camps to conflict zones.

Rarely longer than 30 minutes, Hacking Hunger offers concise, yet poignant stories from the frontlines of countries combatting hunger. According to the M.J. Altman, editorial director at World Food Program U.S.A., Hacking Hunger is most successful when it moves and motivates its listeners. By bringing attention to hunger issues worldwide, Hacking Hunger both raises awareness about and generates support for hunger relief funds.

Circle of Blue Podcasts

Circle of Blue is a non-profit, resource advocacy group that focuses on sanitation and water. Circle of Blue’s podcast covers water issues in depth by looking at how water relates to energy production, food, health and environmental topics. Though Circle of Blue has several programs (among them H2O Hotspots and What’s Up with Water), they are combined under “Circle of Blue WaterNews” on various podcast provider platforms.

With news-like quality and tone, Circle of Blue updates listeners on water issues worldwide. This podcast combines case-specific stories with connections to larger trends over time. Circle of Blue is a good podcast for listeners who want to explore how access to water contributes to inequality worldwide. Keep an eye out especially for the H2O Hotspot episodes, which feature in-depth stories on areas in danger of water-related conflicts.

Global Dispatches

From the team of the U.N. Dispatch, Global Dispatches covers foreign policy issues and world affairs. The show highlights policy-makers, aid workers, development experts and global affairs leaders through in-depth interviews. The varying content promotes global inequality awareness in many fields. For example, recent topics have included the link between poverty and vaccines, political conflict in Haiti and “energy poverty” in developing countries.

Despite the diverse content, the editor of the U.N. Dispatch blog, Mark Leon Goldberg, hosts the podcast and gives it a consistent voice between episodes. Global Dispatches contextualizes the central topic of each episode very well, making it easy to understand without prior knowledge. Episodes are generally fewer than 45 minutes long and updated frequently. This podcast is ideal for listeners who want to keep up-to-date with a diverse range of foreign policy issues.

Podcasts are a great way to stay informed when it seems like there are not enough hours in the day because they can be listened to on a walk or in the car. Listening to these podcasts (and others like it) can help people stay updated on different aspects of global issues and poverty as well as increase their global inequality awareness.

Morgan Harden
Photo: Flickr

Women and WaterOver 600 million people struggle to access clean water for drinking and sanitation worldwide. While for many this is a communal problem, the burden of finding and collecting water often falls onto women. In developing nations, gender inequality becomes apparent when observing water management within communities. Women are responsible for this vital resource, yet often excluded from larger water management decisions. Engaging women in community water management solutions empowers them and establishes greater equity in developing communities.

The Burden of Water

Women and children bear the majority of the burden when it comes to water collection. Every day, they collectively spend almost 200 million hours locating and obtaining water for their communities. Over 50 million more hours are spent searching for sanitary places to relieve themselves. Hours devoted to collecting water take away time from education, employment and family. Additionally, in some areas, water scarcity is so severe that women have to settle for dirty and contaminated water for drinking, cooking and cleaning, exposing them to water-borne diseases and parasites.

Providing sources of clean water and sanitation to women in developing nations has the potential to do much more than reducing health risks. The hours women and children reclaim when they get access to clean water in their homes or villages can instead be used to pursue higher education, start small businesses or even grow food for their families. One study conducted by UNICEF in Tanzania found that cutting down the time needed for collecting water from 30 minutes to 15 increased rates of girls attending school by over 10 percent. However, since women are rarely actively included in the process of supplying and financing water management solutions, their perspectives are not addressed in the long run.

Access to Clean Water’s Impact on Women

When women get the opportunity to elevate their responsibility for water beyond collection and into management, their potential can blossom. Water.org features stories of the impact access to clean water can make on the lives of women. In India, they found that women are often forced to collect water from outside their communities due to a lack of funds for installing water taps near their homes.

This inspired the creation of WaterCredit, a service providing affordable, short-term loans going towards constructing taps that offer long-term access to clean water in developing communities. Women like Manjula make up nearly 90 percent of borrowers, reducing the need to travel so far outside their communities to obtain water. This gives them the time and energy needed to manage personal businesses, which earn enough income to easily repay the loan from WaterCredit. Water.org reports that WaterCredit provided around 4.6 million loans, amassing a total value of 1.7 billion dollars, demonstrating what a feasible and impactful solution this service offers.

Emmitt Kussrow
Photo: Flickr