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

World Water Day 2019While water might seem like a basic necessity, more than 650 million people worldwide lack easy access to clean water. Every year, the United Nations sponsors World Water Day. World Water Day raises awareness about global water crises, demonstrating the need for water in developing nations. Take a look at these interesting facts about how the U.N. celebrated World Water Day 2019.

5 Interesting Facts About World Water Day 2019

  1. “Leaving No One Behind”
    The theme for World Water Day 2019 was “Leaving No One Behind.” Technology is providing new methods to increase access to clean water. Additionally, it mobilizes programs combating water scarcity. Above all, technology connects individuals interested in making a difference, no matter where they are. However, these advances can’t only benefit privileged populations. Improvements must be available to marginalized groups, as well. World Water Day 2019 emphasized access to clean water is a human right, as recognized by the U.N. in 2010. Everyone deserves water, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, religion or age.
  2. USAID’s Strategy
    The U.S. government is working to implement a strategy to improve global water access through the U.S. Agency for International Development. While the fight to bring access to clean water is global, USAID renewed its commitment to providing clean drinking water this World Water Day. As such, USAID supports the core objectives outlined in the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy. These objectives include promoting better stewardship of freshwater resources and expanding the availability of sanitation services. Additionally, USAID is enacting policy and programs aimed at providing 15 million people access to clean water by 2022.
  3. “Water Action Decade”
    This World Water Day marked the first completed year of the U.N.’s “Water Action Decade.” Three years ago, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously decided to make the global water crisis a top priority for 10 years straight. The “Water Action Decade” kicked off in 2018. Therefore, efforts to increase sustainable water management and access to safe water will last through World Water Day 2028. And nations around the world execute large-scale programs, addressing water scarcity stemming from pollution, drought and urbanization.
  4. Women and Water
    Women played a key role in the message of World Water Day 2019. While many suffer due to water scarcity, women disproportionately carry the burden. According to U.N. research, women and girls make up the majority of people responsible for obtaining water in areas where clean water isn’t accessible. Collectively, women devote around 200 million hours to finding and gathering clean water. Subsequently, a major goal for World Water Day 2019 was improving women’s access to water, which can lead to awesome opportunities that promote independence for women. Therefore, the U.N. sponsors women-led projects in rural areas to include women in community decisions about water as just one part of its commitment to improving universal access to clean water worldwide.
  5. U.N. Sustainable Development Goals
    In fact, World Water Day is just one example of U.N. efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goal 6. Overall, the U.N. has agreed on 17 different goals to promote sustainable development worldwide, specifically in growing and impoverished nations. These Sustainable Development Goals must meet their goals by 2030. Particularly, the primary task of Sustainable Development Goal 6 is to make water safe, affordable and accessible universally. And World Water Day marks just one of many U.N. efforts to reach this crucial goal on target. Ultimately, the first step in achieving universal access to clean water is raising awareness.

Nevertheless, on World Water Day 2019, nations joined hands to strengthen efforts toward making clean water accessible worldwide. The celebration honored organizations that provide aid, unite communities and save lives. And they celebrate innovations that revolutionize water management, along with the people dedicated to campaigning for water access without leaving anyone behind.

Emmitt Kussrow
Photo: Unsplash

Water Resources in EthiopiaEthiopia — located in the horn of Africa — is the most populated landlocked country on earth with 102 million citizens. It is incredibly ecologically diverse, with mountains, river valleys, highlands and deserts existing side by side. There are significant surface and groundwater resources but the country is considered water-stressed due to its rapid population growth. Climate change has been affecting the already inconsistent rainfall patterns, and during the dry season puts pressure on remaining water sources.

Water resources in Ethiopia should be three things: available, accessible and free from contamination. But where does the country stand in terms of achieving these goals?

Availability of Water Resources in Ethiopia

In a 2017 UNICEF survey, 78 percent of Ethiopians reported no problems with availability. Although rural areas of Ethiopia are more likely to drink from springs or wells, these sources are more consistent than their urban counterparts. Almost 75 percent of people living in the cities of Addis Ababa and Tigray have access to piped water, but half of urban respondents reported that water had been unavailable for a full day or more in the past two weeks. Access to piped water definitely has its advantages, but in Ethiopia, is it also the least reliable.

Accessibility of Water Resources in Ethiopia

The advantage of living in an urban area is that water is likely to be available on the premises, while rural areas deal with the burden of time-consuming collection. Nationally, 55 percent of people spend 1 to 30 minutes fetching water, and 26 percent spend more than 30 minutes.

This burden is not divided equally in the average household. Three-quarters of water bearers are female, most likely the daughter of the household head. Nationally, about 35 percent of those fetching water are children between the ages of 7 and 14. This may be a contributor to the fact that less than half of Ethiopian children attend primary school.

Safety of Water Resources in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, water may be contaminated through fecal matter or industrial chemicals. Rural areas are more likely to rely on surface water or dug wells, which have the highest rates of E. coli in the country. There is also a higher risk that the water will become infected after it has been brought into the home. The practice of open defecation, still used by 27 million Ethiopians, contributes to these high numbers.  The fact that humans and livestock rely on the same water sources also adds to the risk. The UNICEF report found that only 14 percent of tested water had no detectable E. coli.

Larger sources of water, such as rivers, are more likely to be contaminated with industrial waste. Ethiopia is largely reliant on agriculture, with industry focused around textiles and food industries. As the country continues to industrialize, pollution is expected to increase. Foreign investment in the Ethiopian economy has shown a positive influence on this issue, as these investors prefer nonpolluting activities.

In 2006, only 24 percent of the population had access to drinking water. In 2015, that number was 57 percent. The Ethiopian government and international charities have worked hard to bring about such rapid change. With continued interest, Ethiopia will see the day of 100 percent access to clean and available water.

– Jackie Mead
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Gaza
Although access to safe drinking water is a basic human right, many people in Gaza are struggling to find sanitary water. There is an acute water crisis in Gaza, as only one in 10 households has access to safe water sources.  People in this region struggle to find access to a clean and safe water source, only adding to the already bad living conditions in the area. Contaminated water causes severe problems such as disease outbreaks, which can be fatal without proper hygiene tools.

The Water Crisis in Gaza

Experts have estimated that 97 percent of drinking water in Gaza is contaminated by sewage and salt. The regions main source of water is from their coastal aquifer, but the extreme overuse of the aquifer is diminishing its supply at an unprecedented rate. The system has also been contaminated by seawater, meaning that only 4 percent of the water that comes from the aquifer is safe to drink. Water in the region has even become privatized and many families must pay a vendor that owns a private well simply to obtain water. Even when this water is delivered to households, two-thirds of it is already contaminated. On average, around 33 percent of an individual’s income in Gaza goes towards purchasing water.

Effects on Hygiene

This water crisis in Gaza not only affects water consumption but hygiene as well. Gaza is only able to have electricity for four to five hours a day, which prohibits sewage pants from being able to treat all of the sewage that comes through. An extreme amount of sewage is pumped back into the ocean in Gaza daily and around 70 percent of the beaches in the region are contaminated. As a result, polluted water is the leading cause of child mortality in Gaza. As aid organizations work to improve access to clean water,  the sanitation crisis can be improved as well.

Organizations Working to Improve Water Quality

In January 2017, UNICEF built the largest desalination system in Gaza to provide 75,000 citizens with access to drinking water. Electricity remains a problem in the region, but UNICEF plans to build a large solar panel field to ensure that the plant remains running at full capacity so that it can provide up to 250,000 people with clean water. The organization also partnered with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to create a new desalination technique that can make almost 90 percent of water from the aquifer into safe drinking water. The United Nations’ WASH program has also concurred that other steps still need to be taken such as purifying the aquifer and improving rainwater harvesting.

Some experts believe that the region will be uninhabitable by 2020 due to the extreme burden of the water crisis in Gaza. Aid organizations along with the Palestinian Water Authority are aiming to avoid that by planning to build a large sewer network with several desalination plants. Donors have already pledged $500 million to the project. The only problem with the project is the lack of electricity in the region, but officials are claiming that they will soon solve this problem.

Although the water crisis in Gaza has only worsened in the last 20 years, recent aid work in the region provides hope for those who have been struggling to find clean water. As UNICEF and other agencies work to give clean water to the people of Gaza, the privatized water vendors may disappear and the idea of having to purchase largely contaminated water can become a thing of the past for the people of the region.

– Olivia Halliburton
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Mexico
Mexico City is facing a water crisis, with one in five citizens lacking access to reliable tap water. Many people only receive water once a week from a truck they must pay to deliver the water to the designated area and even then they have to wait in line for hours, sometimes overnight, out of fear the truck will run out of the water.

The poorest areas are not serviced by these expensive trucks and individuals must walk long distances to get water for their families. Mexico City’s water crisis is worsening as temperatures increase, droughts get longer and more frequent, aquifer water levels continue to drop and a lack of funds prevents solutions from being implemented.

However, while many people in the city lack clean water, the city also has a problem with floodings. This represents the paradox of water crisis in Mexico.

Water Sources in the City

A significant portion of the city’s water comes from underground aquifers. Water-impervious surfaces such as concrete and asphalt prevent water from filtering through the ground to the depleted aquifers. Mexico City continues to draw water from this finite resource while increased development inhibits rainwater from replenishing the water level, raising concerns about the future availability of water.

Because local water sources are insufficient to supply Mexico City’s large population of 21 million, about 40 percent of water is brought into the city from remote locations. There are over 8,000 miles of pipes designed to transport this water. Forty percent of the water that needs to be supplied is lost as a result of leaking pipes or theft. Even with these supplementary water sources, Mexico City struggles to consistently supply all its citizens with tap water. This problem is exacerbated by a lack of infrastructure designed at capturing rainwater and recycling waste water.

The Paradox of Water Crisis in Mexico

The paradox of Mexico City’s water crisis is that the same population facing a water shortage is also plagued with periodic flooding. Situated 1.5 miles above the sea level, the city was originally settled by the Aztecs in the 14th century on an island in the middle of a system of lakes. As the population grew, some of these lakes were filled, and eventually, the Aztecs were conquered by the Spanish and any remaining lakes were drained.

In addition, as the aquifers are depleted to supply the city with water, the ground compresses and the city sinks up to nine inches a year in some regions. This combination makes Mexico City prone to flooding during summer storms.

Solutions to the Problem

In order to address this problem, multiple projects have been proposed. Parks have been designed in key areas to allow rainwater to seep into the ground and replenish the aquifer while minimizing flood risk. Other efforts focus on reducing the impact of development and improving wastewater management to increase local water availability. For example, some roadways built on top of what used to be river beds have been altered to incorporate linear parks aimed at treating runoff.

Sustainable projects like these are increasingly common as the future of water availability becomes a greater concern. However, to truly address Mexico City’s water crisis the government will have to significantly invest in new infrastructure aimed at collecting rainwater and recycling waste water. Relying on a depleted aquifer and water imported from remote sources is not a long-term solution and locals will continue to suffer the paradox of water crisis in Mexico, the situation in which they lack access to reliable water sources while also being at risk of debilitating floods.

– Georgia Orenstein
Photo: Flickr

PovertyPeople in this world understand what poverty is and how devastating it is for individuals and communities. However, the factors that lead to poverty are not as clear as the way in which poverty affects people. The question of why does poverty exists has been asked many times yet the ultimate solution continues to evade the world due to the multifaceted issues of this problem. These are the top factors that lead to poverty today.

Top Factors that Lead to Poverty

  1. One of the obvious factors that lead to poverty is the lack of clean water. There are many people in the world who take access to clean water for granted. However, 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe, readily available water and 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation. This factor is crucial to poverty because not only does inadequate sanitation and lack of clean water leads to preventable diseases like diarrhea or something more serious like typhoid but the cost of mitigating this issue is increased as time goes by. The efforts to survive through these illnesses can ultimately force the individual to be stuck in poverty for a longer term. This happens because these people spend little money they have on transportation to a clinic and to medical costs. Considering that it is nearly impossible to live without water, many people are spending precious hours and energy to reach a water collection point. People in poverty in rural communities have the greatest risk for falling into this vicious circle.
  2. Poor education is also one of the key factors that can lead to poverty. This is because education is one of the greatest assets a person can have, and poor or no education often leads to poverty. Education provides protection against poverty in a way that it acts as a great equalizer. Being educated provides people with the means to reach for more ambitious career and life goals. For instance, 35 percent of people who have the educational attainment of less than a high school are likely to be impoverished, compared to 5 percent of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher. UNESCO estimates that 171 million people could escape poverty if they had basic literacy skills.
  3. Another factor that leads to poverty is the unreliable labor market. Extreme poverty is defined as the situation in which someone is surviving on less than $1.90 a day. Sadly, about 11 percent of the world’s population is classified as living in these conditions. The reason why these people are troubled is directly related to the conditions of the jobs that they have and job opportunities. The unreliable availability of jobs and the insufficient wages make it difficult for people to take themselves out of poverty. This also relates to the factor of the education, as people who do not have specific skills or experience have a hard time to secure themselves with a stable and high-paid job.
  4. The unequal distribution of the wealth in the world also contributes to poverty. In 2005, it was estimated that the wealthiest 10 percent of the world accounted for 59 percent of a total private consumption. Meanwhile, the poorest 10 percent consumed only 0.5 percent. The people who are struggling in poverty have little and consume little. This pattern will continue endlessly unless this distribution is equalized to some extent. An example of this inequality can be seen in the net worth of different individuals. In 2006, the 497 billionaires in the world had a net worth of $3.5 trillion. This is nearly triple the net worth of low-income countries that have 2.4 billion people and net worth of $1.6 trillion.
  5. Poor infrastructure is also a large factor of poverty. Impoverished people generally live in isolated communities in rural areas. This means that these people do not have easy access to electricity, water, roads and reliable transportation. For example, more than 85 percent of the population in the Central African Republic lacks electricity and connectivity. As a result, isolation is limiting the ability to education or work opportunities.

Many factors that affect poverty are not mentioned above. Poverty is not only an issue for people affected but it impacts the entire world. It can come as a result of many other factors, therefore, it is difficult to truly eliminate it. This requires the international cooperation and understanding on how to overcome these factors.

– Jenny S. Park
Photo: Flickr

Contributory Factors That Lead to PovertyThe issue of global poverty has been around for a long time and it gets more serious every day. Today, individuals are not only suffering from global poverty but also from the contributory factors that lead to poverty.

Approaching the issue with numbers, it can be seen that approximately half of the people in the world today are surviving on nothing more than $2.5 per day. By looking deeper, it can also be seen that more than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty, which corresponds to nothing more than $1.25 per day.

In order to take action on the issue of global poverty, one must analyze the issue from all aspects because the existence of poverty has its very own contributory factors. Understanding the factors that lead to poverty may enable the prevention of the issue before its existence in the future. 

5 Factors That Lead to Poverty

  1. One of the many factors leading to global poverty is having no access to clean drinking water. More than 750 million people do not have the access to clean water, which can cause a number of illnesses such as Diarrhea. In this regard, the fair distribution of clean water is crucial in order to improve the sanitation and health of the population.
  2. There are also some political factors that lead to poverty. The idea of equal distribution on what is taken from the planet is not exactly equal between countries. There are two crucial facts to highlight this very issue. One is that the world could put every child into school if only one percent of what is spent on weapons were spent on those in need.
  3. The other heartbreaking fact is that the world’s richest seven people combined are wealthier than the GDP of 41 poor countries combined. These two facts should highlight one solution that would eliminate the factors that lead to poverty: the stronger countries should help those in need. Greed and apathy are two of the most wounding contributory factors of global poverty
  4. Having no access to earn a proper living or livelihood is another contributing factor. The idea here is simple, without a proper job, one has no other way to earn money. It can be argued that finding a job or at least a way of making money is not the hardest thing out there and depends heavily on the individual, yet the case is not similar in every country. There are numerous countries out there facing serious conflicts that inhibit access to a normal life where one can have a job and make money. Overpopulation, war and climate change are factors that can have a serious impact on the issue of global poverty.
  5. Lack of infrastructure is another contributing factor. An entire population cannot live in the city, and sometimes getting from one place to another can be a serious issue. Going to school or work from more rural areas depends heavily on infrastructure. The issue of infrastructure is also highlighted as an issue of resource availability and proper governmental control since rural areas often lack basic necessities like electricity and clean water. This can be a large part of the factors that lead to poverty.

The process of any country or community falling into poverty is not immediate. There are numerous factors that lead to poverty, and those factors can be used as indicators of what is yet to come in developing countries. It is important to approach the issue of global poverty from several angles to eliminate it sustainably and start working to erase the factors that lead to it. Only then can the issue of global poverty be solved.

– Orçun Doğmazer

Photo: Pixabay

Providing Clean Water: 3 Beauty Brands that HelpShampooing hair, showering, washing hands after the bathroom- these are all examples of things that are easily taken for granted in the developed world. But 844 million people lack access to safe water around the world and 2.3 billion lack access to proper sanitation. BROO, Aveda and Ollie and Otto are three hair care companies that have partnered with different charity organizations in a goal of providing clean water for the millions of people that are currently living without it.

BROO & Water.org

With every Broo product purchased, one person is provided with the access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation. Water.org believes the biggest barrier to clean water is affordable financing and knows that charity alone is not a long-term solution for having clean water. By partnering with WaterCredit, Water.org is providing loans to families for only $322. The goal of these loans is to provide families with water connections and toilets. Having water in homes costs only a fraction of what it does to buy clean water from vendors, which could cost as much as 20 percent of a family’s income.

Once the loans are paid back, the funds turn into another loan for a family in need, continuing the cycle of providing clean water and getting families out of poverty. Ninety-nine percent of these loans are paid back in full. Since WaterCredit started, 2.6 million in loans have been disbursed.

Without clean water in the home, women and children in some places spend six hours a day walking to gather clean water. Clean water supply changes people’s lives by giving them more time to get an education and better health. Providing clean water to communities in need ends the cycle of poverty by giving them access to things that previously were not available.

Aveda & Global Greengrants Foundation

Aveda celebrates Earth Month every April by raising funds and increasing awareness for the environment and people lacking clean water. By selling Light the Way Candles, Aveda has raised over $50 million for clean water projects since 2007.

All of the proceeds go to Aveda’s partner Global Greengrants Foundation and support grants that are providing clean water to those in need. Global Greengrants and Aveda have provided 920,000 people with clean water through projects in 85 different countries. Projects include things like “helping communities advocate for safe and affordable drinking water, protecting watersheds such as lakes, wetlands and rivers, helping communities address climate change which contributes to water shortages and scarcity around the globe.”

In April 2018, Head Technology Trainer Godliver Businge of the Uganda Women’s Water Initiative in Gomba, Uganda, taught women in the community how to build Biosand filters that kill 99 percent of bacteria in contaminated water.

With funds from Global Greengrants and Aveda, Gomba is now a prosperous community that can afford to buy textbooks and other school supplies for the children. Buswinge continues to teach women how to build Biosand filters, which in turn reduces the poverty rate and increases health.

Uganda Women’s Water Initiative is also teaching women about bio-intensive farming and how to make soap. Three hundred women are now trained in how to make Biosand filters and rainwater harvesting tanks.

Ollie and Otto & Generosity.org

Ollie & Otto partnered with Generosity.org to provide clean water for one person in yearly period for every product purchased. So far, the partnership is supporting clean water projects in Haiti, India and Africa.

Since Generosity.org started, they have helped 20 countries gain access to clean water and proper sanitation. According to this organization, teaching people to wash their hands and properly use latrines saves more lives than any vaccine.

Funded by partners like Ollie & Otto and other companies, Generosity.org has funded 813 projects and 470,000 people.

Clean water and proper sanitation give people access to a better life. Without the need for a time-consuming gathering of water or health care costs of water born disease, communities now have the time and money to provide an education for their children and to earn more income by working.

Companies like Broo, Aveda and Ollie & Otto are paving the way towards providing clean water and proper hygiene and sanitation for communities that deserve to be lifted out of poverty.

– Hope Kelly

Photo: Flickr

Cape Town water
Cape Town, South Africa has experienced a drought for the last three years, leading up to what officials are calling ‘Day Zero,’ or the day the city will turn off a large portion of its tap water and turn to rationing the remaining water among citizens. However, water shortage issues began as early as 1995 with little action from the city to remedy the situation.

Water Crisis

What happened in 1995 that caused a crisis over two decades later? The population of Cape Town began increasing and has steadily increased by over three-quarters of its previous population. Fortunately, this multiplication alone was not the cause of the water crisis; rather, it was population growth paired with little increase in water storage.

The city failed to compensate a growing population to its water usage, and while this has made a significant impact on the amount of water in Cape Town, the city has still been able to maintain reasonable water levels despite a lack of added water storage facilities.

This success is primarily due to plentiful rainfall during the monsoon seasons, which may also be why Cape Town has previously failed to increase its water storage for so many years.

Restrictions and Rations

Unfortunately, a drought began in South Africa in 2015 that severely limited the amount of water available to citizens, especially those in Cape Town.

The drought brought to light the water storage issue for Cape Town officials who began urging citizens to conserve the remaining water. They initially asked that each citizen use approximately 87 liters of water before decreasing the amount to a mere 50 liters, or just over 13 gallons, daily.  

The South African government has created a rationing system to be implemented when the water levels decrease to a low enough level. The day this occurs is the day referred to as ‘Day Zero.’ However, in the meantime, the most energy is being placed into reminding citizens to continue to reduce their water usage.

Applications and Online Services

In light of the water crisis, the University of Cape Town has developed a series of cell phone applications that will aid in water conservation. The first is a free application called ‘DropDrop.’

DropDrop allows users to track water usage in real time, helping citizens ensure that they are staying within the city’s new water restrictions. The app is especially useful in areas where regular access to the internet does not exist due to the application’s offline nature after initial download.

Among the services created for Capetonians during the water crisis is an organization, Picup. The group started with the goal of quickly shipping water to Cape Town residents, and now allows Capetonians to order bottled water and receive it to one’s home within 24 hours.

The water can be purchased in two order sizes, with the smallest being 30 liters with an affordable price tag of around 176 Rands, or approximately $13.

City Initiatives

Among the initiatives implemented to conserve water in Cape Town is the initiative started by Cape Town officials that monitors household water usage. The initiative also awards certificates and name recognition on the city website for households showing a 10 percent or higher decrease in water usage.

The city also gives daily updates on water levels for surrounding dams in order to encourage Capetonians in their conservation efforts.

Moving Forwards

Despite the outstanding circumstances Cape Town has faced over the last few years, the future looks bright. With a strong community making huge lifestyle changes to conserve water, the city’s water basins are filling back up and allowing citizens to be a part of a community survival story.

The water crisis in Cape Town has proved the city’s growing wisdom and trendsetting environmental responsibility. This growth has not only set an example for the world to follow, but it has also been the first to prove that any inescapability, even one as drastic as ‘Day Zero,’ can be overcome.  

Alexandra Ferrigno
Photo: Flickr


Over the course of the last 25 years, Somalia has suffered a series of devastating droughts. In the most recent one, spanning through 2016 and 2017 there was an absence of rain for three seasons in a row. This drought was particularly devastating in its effects: food scarcity, malnutrition, and the spread of cholera and other diseases.

In 2017 alone, approximately 1.2 million people were acutely malnourished, 80,000 children could no longer attend school and 120,000 children were at risk of dropping out. The crisis in Somalia highlights how the effects of drought and inaccessibility to safe drinking water affects all facets of society.

Access to Safe Drinking Water

Lack of access to safe water is a striking feature in almost all parts of Somalia. Only 45% of Somalis have access to improved water sources and this fact increases the risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases. Cholera is endemic and claims hundreds of lives annually, particularly in densely populated areas. Increasing access to safe water must be accompanied by efforts to ensure the quality of drinking water. Water quality monitoring and house-water treatment, as well as safe storage, are critical in reducing the risk of contamination of water supplies.

Addressing the Problem

Fortunately, a solution is in sight. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Somalia is using a coagulant called Polyglu to treat drinking water in Somalia and to assist those affected by the recent drought. IOM helps to protect migrants, refugees and those displaced within their country.

From November 2016 to March 2017, over 600,000 people were displaced within Somalia. Many were forced to leave their homes and livelihoods behind in search of food and water. A startling 8,000 people are being displaced every day. Since safe drinking water is at the center of their displacement, Polyglu offers an effective and innovative solution that could help hundreds of thousands of people, in Somalia but in other countries as well.

About Polyglu

Polyglu is a powder, primarily composed of a coagulant made from fermented soybeans, which serves to quicken the clotting of impurities found in water. Polyglu is unique in that is a safe and environmentally friendly purifying agent that has been successfully applied in the food and industrial equipment industries.

One gram of the Polyglu powder is capable of treating up to five liters of polluted water, which makes this powder very effective. It has been successfully deployed in India, Bangladesh, Somalia and Tanzania. In collaboration with IOM and the Internally Displaced Person camps in Mogadishu Somalia has used Polyglu to address water-borne diseases and water scarcity. According to locals in Mogadishu, Polyglu has contributed to lowering the rate of diarrhea and other illnesses among Somali children plagued by all kinds of shortages and war.

Moving Forward

While Polyglu has made significant strides in combating water scarcity and water-borne disease in developing countries, much can still be done to ensure safe drinking water in these regions. Although Polyglu can remove many of the pollutants found in water, it cannot completely purify waste water. Thus, it is imperative to allocate more resources to affordable and accessible means of purifying water.

As droughts continue to plague developing countries, Polyglu is just one tool that can be used to ensure access to safe drinking water.

– McAfee Sheehan
Photo: Flickr