The Ocean Cleanup Project: What It Is and What You Can Do

The Ocean Cleanup Project: What It Is and What You Can Do

You may have seen that the internet has been buzzing about The Ocean Cleanup Project. However, even if you’re familiar with the term, it can take a lot of research to truly understand what the Ocean Cleanup Project really is.

We’ve done that work for you and gathered all the information you need to get up to date on The Ocean Cleanup Project, discuss the garbage issues plaguing our oceans, and decide how you can help with this issue.

If you’re interested in learning about the Ocean Cleanup Project, its origins, what it does, how you can be a part of it, and in gaining a better understanding of the seriousness of the issue of trash in our oceans, read on!

What Is The Ocean Cleanup Project?

The Ocean Cleanup Project

In 2013, the Ocean Cleanup Foundation was established by an 18-year-old dutch inventor named Boyan Slat. According to the foundation’s site, it was begun with the goals of creating ways to clear the Pacific Ocean of Pollution and educating people on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The idea, Slat hypothesized, was to use the ocean’s currents to our advantage, allowing our passive drifting systems to clean up over half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in about 5 years’ time. Slat proposed that it would be nearly impossible to go after the garbage in the ocean with nets and vessels, and more than that, it would be costly and time-consuming.

With this in mind, he devised an Ocean Cleanup Passive System that would be comprised of a floater with a solid screen underneath that would concentrate debris and lead them to a collection system. Then, that system would be slowed to the point that it moved less quickly than the plastic, which would result in the plastic being trapped.

The technology behind the Ocean Cleanup Project is fairly simple, but compelling. With their solid screens underneath floating pipes, debris can be caught both on and under the surface. These systems will be drifting freely about the Pacific Ocean and will help to concentrate plastic towards a central point for collection by vessels, where it can be easily removed.

For a visual representation of how the system will work, watch this short video:

Again, according to the Ocean Cleanup Project’s site, the foundation believes that by deploying a fleet of systems, they can clean up an estimated 50 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years, and that the concentrated plastic can be retrieved for recycling purposes. Then, the money that’s made from recycling the plastic can be used to help fund the project’s expansion to the other four ocean systems.

The foundation has been working on testing and trials for this project for a great deal of time, launching expeditions over the ocean gyres in the last few years. The first cleanup system deployment is schedule to take place in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in May of 2018.

How Big is the Threat, Really?

To get a better understanding of the Ocean Cleanup Project, it’s important to get a firmer grasp on how big the problem of pollution in the ocean truly is. First, it’s vital to know what the term “garbage patch” refers to.

Seemingly self-explanatory, a garbage patch is a conglomeration of trash, plastic, and pollution that forms into a giant patch and litters our oceans. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the very spot the Ocean Cleanup Project intends to reduce and hopefully eliminate, is also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex.

It’s composed of trash and litter that spans an area from the West Coast of North America all the way to Japan. It’s so large, in fact, that it even has east and west sections.

This issue is an increasingly hazardous one, as most of the trash in the garbage patch is not biodegradable, causing a massive buildup that’s dangerous for not only ocean climate, creatures, and marine life, but for the human race as well. Much of this trash is visible, but a lot of it is made up of microplastics, non-biodegradable bits of plastic that can’t be seen without a microscope. In short, they’re tiny, but they’re terribly dangerous.

But trash isn’t just clogging up the Pacific Ocean, it’s plaguing our oceans and waterways everywhere. For example, Lagos, Nigeria produces about 600,000 metric tons of plastic trash annually, and approximately 100,000 tons of that ends up in the ocean. The result is landfills brimming with plastic garbage and coastlines strewn with trash.

About 5.25 trillion pieces of trash and litter are clogging up our oceans. To put that in perspective, that’s about 14 billion pounds of garbage dumped into our oceans annually, or about 1.5 million pounds of trash dumped in the ocean every hour. Even more disturbing is the about 269 tons of that trash are floating on our oceans’ surfaces. This trash ends up on islands like Henderson Island, a remote island that has millions of pieces of garbage wash ashore every year.

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Those facts alone should be troubling, but when you take into account the harmful effects that trash can have on the oceans’ climate, marinelife, and creatures, it’s more than just troubling. With the entry of trash into our oceans comes the entry of toxins and pollution that poison marine life. Additionally, plastic debris in the ocean is said to kill fish, seabirds, and other marine mammals, impacting at least 267 species worldwide.

More than that, it affects the lives of humans as well. With toxic chemicals entering our oceans via pollution, it’s unsafe for people to consume marine life that’s been impacted by the pollution. In fact, doing so can result in dangerous health problems.

What Can You Do To Help?

So, what’s the next step you can take to help the Ocean Cleanup Project, or just to help clean up our waterways, bodies of water, and expanses of fresh and saltwater? While it may seem unlikely, small efforts by individuals can make go a long way toward decreasing the garbage in our oceans.

When speaking specifically about the Ocean Cleanup Project, there are a few specific ways to help this foundation inch their way toward success.

  • First, you can simply help fund the cleanup. The foundation needs help bridging the gap between their first-system and the full-scale development of the plans they have to clean up the Pacific Garbage Patch. The foundation states that any amount helps to further their mission, so donating is certainly a great way to get involved.
  • Second, you can volunteer your time, skills, and efforts to the cause. According to their site, there are plenty of career, as well as volunteer, opportunities to work with the foundation.

Speaking generally, though, you can help reduce the amount of garbage in the ocean and contribute to solving the trash problem by making small dedicated efforts.

  • Recycle
  • Support bans
  • Reduce your use of single-use plastics
  • Avoid microbeads in cosmetic products
  • Back organizations that work to fight pollution and encourage ocean cleanup

Conclusion

As you can see, the massive amount of garbage conglomerating in the oceans is harmful — not just for the creatures and environments under the water, but also for marine mammals, birds, fish, turtles, and even human beings.

Though there’s an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of trash in our world’s oceans, it’s nearly impossible to determine how much debris is making up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, because the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is too large for scientists to trawl. Even worse, it’s harder to tell because not all of the trash in the area is floating on the surface, and much of it made up of tiny, microplastics you can’t see with the naked eye.

Much of this trash comes from everyday pollution or land-based activities that take place in Asia and North America, but a percentage of it also comes from boaters, cargo ships, and offshore oil rigs.

The Ocean Cleanup Project, and other organizations like it, are doing their part to help rid the world and its oceans of the rubbish that plagues it, but you can help, too. By increasing your recycling habits, reducing your single-use plastic activities, and dedicating yourself to encouraging friends and family to do the same, you too can reduce the impact of garbage that’s clogging up our oceans.

Critical Facts About Waterborne Diseases In The United States and Abroad

Critical Facts About Waterborne Diseases In The United States and Abroad

If you live in a developed country, and I assume many of you are if you’re reading this, waterborne diseases probably aren’t something you typically worry about. But did you know that poor water sanitation and a lack of safe drinking water take a greater human toll than war, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction combined?

Even in America, pumps, pipes and purification facilities could all fail, leaving you susceptible to waterborne diseases.

So what exactly are waterborne diseases? How many people are actually affected by them? How do we keep our water clean and safe? How many people are dying from these diseases, and what can we do to prevent that from happening? We’ll answer all of those questions here.

How Much Drinkable Water Is There?

First things first. Before we can understand why waterborne diseases are so prevalent, we need to have a clear understanding of how much drinkable water is actually available.

While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered in water, only 2.5 percent of it is drinkable. And of that, only 1 percent of it is easily accessible, with the rest trapped in glaciers and snowfields.

Since most of the Earth’s fresh water is frozen at the North and South poles, that leaves the rest of the fresh water in surface water and groundwater. Surface water is found in the Earth’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Groundwater is just surface water that has made its way into the soil.

You might be wondering if we will ever run out of fresh water. Our population is rapidly increasing, and most of our uses for fresh water are increasing right along with it. So, will we always have enough fresh water to go around?  We will.

The Earth is very efficient when it comes to recycling its water.  Every drop of water we use continues through the water cycle. Water on the ground and in lakes and streams is evaporated into the clouds, and then sent falling back down to the ground.  Although we may never run out of fresh water, we still need to do our part to be sure we keep it as clean as we possibly can.

What Are Waterborne Diseases?

A waterborne disease is simply any disease that is contracted by drinking dirty or contaminated water. In under-developed countries the water is typically contaminated by human and animal feces or a general lack of sanitation. In more developed countries, it can be caused by faulty pipes, pumps, or purification facilities. It’s even possible to get a waterborne disease by eating food that was contaminated by dirty water.

Some of the most well known waterborne diseases are polio, malaria, cholera, and diarrhea. All of these diseases are serious health threats and could lead to death.

  • Polio attacks the nervous system and causes paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death.
  • When you think of malaria you probably think of mosquitos, but malaria is also a waterborne disease. Malaria is a life threatening illness that causes high fever, chills, vomiting, and even coma.
  • Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that, if left untreated, can be fatal.
  • Diarrhea may seem harmless enough, but believe it or not, in developing countries without access to modern medicine and clean drinking water, it kills about 2.2 million people per year, usually due to severe dehydration.

The most common waterborne disease that affects tourists in under-developed countries is likely travelers diarrhea. Also known as Delhi Belly or Tourist Trot, an estimated 10 million travelers are affected by it each year. The biggest risk factor to developing travelers diarrhea is your destination.

If you’re traveling to an area that has a high occurrence of waterborne diseases, do your due diligence to prepare so that you don’t contract anything while you’re on the road.

The Key Statistics

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme 2017 report on the progress of drinking water recently published its 2017 update. The report finds that in 2015, 29% of the global population (2.1 billion people) lacked safely managed drinking water services – meaning water at home, available, and safe.

This widespread inability to get safe drinking water is very serious and should not be taken lightly. Every year there are more than 3.4 million deaths from waterborne diseases, making it the leading cause of disease and death around the world.

What’s worse is that most of those deaths are young children, about 4,000 a day. At any given time, close to half of the population in the developing world are suffering from some type of waterborne disease. In 2013 to 2014, waterborne diseases caused 289 cases of illness, 108 hospitalizations, and 17 deaths in the United States.

Keep in mind these are deaths due to the effects of unsafe drinking water, most of which are completely preventable.

Keeping The Water Safe

They say it’s always better to be proactive instead of reactive, so the best thing to do to keep people from getting waterborne diseases is to use clean water. However, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. It’s estimated that 780 million people don’t have access to an improved water source.

As was already mentioned, most people have access to clean water in America. The water supply and sanitation in the United States is one of the cleanest and most regulated in the world. That being said, nothing is perfect, and Americans can still be exposed to unsafe drinking water.

As many as 63 million people, almost a fifth of the country, from rural central California to the boroughs of New York City, were exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once during the past decade.

Industrial dumping, farming pollution, and pipe deterioration are the main causes of the contaminated water. In some instances it took nearly two years for the issues causing the contaminated water to be resolved.

The good news is that there are things we can do to keep our water clean and safe.

Recycle

Recycling items, and properly disposing of items that cannot be recycled, keeps them from getting into to our rivers and oceans to contaminate the water. Even disposing of your cigarette butts properly will go a long way toward keeping our water clean.

Minimize Chemicals

The best way to keep chemicals from getting into our water is to simply not use them.  There are plenty of all natural, chemical free products we can use that will cause no environmental impact. From laundry detergent to window cleaner, always go natural.

Participate In Cleanup Efforts

Participate in or organize a cleanup effort. Clean up the beaches and river beds to keep trash from entering the water supply. Organizing a cleanup day with a local school will both keep the water clean and educate children on the importance of a clean water supply.

Reuse Water

Set up a home rainwater capture system to maximize your home water use.  A basic rainwater system channels water from gutters into a collection barrel.  Use this water to water your flowers, wash your car, or use it to make a natural cleaning detergent.

Prevention

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So, how can we prevent waterborne diseases? This may seem an obvious answer, but we need to keep our water clean. Clean water is a prerequisite for reducing the spread of waterborne diseases. People need to be provided safe and sanitary ways to dispose of feces, as well as ways to store their water to keep it from becoming contaminated.  Dirty water has to be disinfected to stop the growth of pathogenic organisms and to protect people’s health.

We can also think outside of the box. For example, the Kohler Clarity system is a simple, inexpensive water filtration system that removes 99% of all bacteria and protozoa in water. It can filter up to 40 liters of water per day, making it ideal for families who are struggling to find adequate clean water.

Other examples of thinking outside the box are River International and Water For Life. These charities work to provide clean water for those in developing countries who have little or no access to water supplies.

That one invention and that one charity can save millions of lives by giving them access to clean water whenever they need it.  We all need to do our part.

Conclusion

Waterborne diseases may not get the funding or attention it should or that other diseases get, but it is a very serious illness that kills millions of people every year.

On a large scale, this is a serious issue faced by billions in developing countries without the access to resources we have in developed countries. On a smaller scale, though, people are still dying in America from drinking contaminated water, even with these resources.

Waterborne diseases are the leading cause of death around the globe, and it’s almost inexcusable. Keeping our water safe and clean to prevent the spread of disease should be a high priority. It’s time to clean the water that has been contaminated and keep our clean water safe.

The Water Crisis In India: Everything You Need To Know

The Water Crisis In India: Everything You Need To Know

When contemplating our world’s most precious resources, past conversations often centered around fossil fuels and the consequences once those become scarce.

However, recent times have given us an abundance of alternative energy options and new technologies either in use or on the horizon. These innovations have turned the conversation to a resource that, on a basic level, is readily abundant and covers two-thirds of the earth’s surface.

Water.

More specifically, freshwater.

Though 70% of the earth is covered in water, only 2% of it is fresh. Further complicating the issue is that 1.6% of that freshwater is contained in glaciers and polar ice caps.

Many third world and developing countries struggle with ensuring this basic tenant of our existence is both available and safe. Nowhere is this more apparent than India.

A Major Lack of Resources

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With the planets second largest population at 1.3 billion, and expectant growth to 1.7 billion by 2050, India finds itself unable to serve the vast majority of that populace with safe, clean water.

Supporting 16% of the world’s inhabitants is daunting enough, but it is even more so when recognizing that population is crammed into an area one-third the size of the United States. Then consider that India only possesses 4% of the world’s fresh water and the crisis can be more fully realized.

India may not be the only nation in this predicament, but theirs is at a stage more critical than most. Severe lack of regulation, over privatization, general neglect and rampant government corruption have led to multiple generations thirsting for more than just a few drops of hazard free water.

The situation has grown to the point that regional disputes have risen over access to rivers in the country’s interior. Those disputes take on a global scale in conflicts with Pakistan over the River Indus and River Sutley in the west and north and with China to the east with the River Brahmaputra.

Surface water isn’t the only source reaching a breaking point.

Tracing back several generations, the critical situation in India can be linked to a myriad of causes. In modern times though, the concern has moved from the surface to the ground. And it’s there where India’s freshwater is under the greatest stress.

Causes: Groundwater and A History of Indifference

Over the past 50 years, policies have allowed what amounts to a free-for-all in groundwater development and as the crisis has grown it has been met with continued neglect, mismanagement and overall indifference.

Estimates put India’s groundwater use at roughly one-quarter of the global usage with total usage surpassing that of China and the United States combined. With farmers provided electricity subsidies to help power the groundwater pumping, the water table has seen a drop of up to 4 meters in some parts of the country. This unfettered draining of groundwater sources has accelerated over the past two decades.

With the aggressive pumping, particularly in rural areas, where agriculture provides the livelihood for upwards of 600 million Indians, Mother Nature is often the difference in a good year and a devastating one. Relying on monsoon rains without proper irrigation or water management techniques has been a recipe for disaster.

Mismanagement and corruption often draw the largest headlines, but many of India’s leaders have also been slow or unwilling to adapt to newer technologies or cohesive plans to address the issues.

The response can at best be described as irresponsible. Consider China, a country with roughly 50 million more people, uses a quarter less freshwater.

Growing Demand, Declining Health

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Not only is India the world’s second most populated country, but it has a fast growing middle class that is raising the demands on clean, safe water. Then consider close to half of the country practises open defecation and you have a dichotomy of two very different populations desperately pulling at the same limited resource.

One group wanting to grow and flourish and the other wanting to survive.

A few numbers from the World Bank highlight the plight the country is facing:

  • 163 Million Indians lack access to safe drinking water
  • 210 Million Indians lack access to improved sanitation
  • 21% of communicable diseases are linked to unsafe water
  • 500 children under the age of five die from diarrhea each day in India

More than half of the rivers in India are highly polluted with numerous others at levels considered unsafe by modern standards. The waters of the Yamuna, Ganga and Sabarmati flow the dirtiest with a deadly mix of pollutants both hazardous and organic.

Aside from commonplace industrial pollution and waste, India’s rivers are open use across much of the country. From dumping human waste as previously noted to bathing to washing clothes, the human element contributes to the epidemic of health related concerns.

Adding to the human toll is the reliance on seasonal rains, which are often sporadic in some years and over abundant in others. Rain totals can vary greatly and do not always arrive in the places they are needed most. The drought and flooding that results from this inconsistent cycle often leads to crop failures and farmer suicides.

Much of the above affects rural citizens where poverty is rampant, but even more developed urban areas face their own challenges.

Even with a robustly growing middle class, when combining rural and urban populations, over half of India still lives at or below the poverty level. Furthermore, no city in India can provide clean, consumable tap water full-time.

Should the crisis continue unabated, the scarcity of water will have a negative impact on the industrial health of the country.

Recent drops in manufacturing jobs can be tied to companies being unable to access clean water. Along with the inability to properly cultivate agriculture areas and the water crisis quickly becomes an economic one.

Look to the Future

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It may seem a foregone conclusion that the water will soon enough dry up and along with it India as a whole. That need not be the case.

There are even bright spots in the current environment. The Rivers Narmada and Chamabal run clean with water fit for consumption. Several projects are currently underway that aim to move water to areas that need it the most.

But it will take a long-term commitment of the Indian government not previously shown and the heavy assistance of outside resources.

Common sense practices and training will also aid in reducing the damage done to groundwater sources. Teaching farmers updated irrigation techniques, such as drip irrigation, and utilizing more rainwater harvesting are small, effective steps in stemming the loss of freshwater sources.

Much of India will also need modern sanitation policies that both conserve and wisely utilize water sources. Recognizing physical and economic growth directly ties to the amount of safe, usable water is another step in right direction.

Conclusion

Yes, all of these changes take the long view, but a crisis of this magnitude will not be solved with lip service and short sided solutions.

However daunting, the goals are not unattainable. India is still a developing society, and there is time to reverse the crisis that has been decades in the making.

Given the right commitment and dedication, India can soon enough have safe, clean water.

Simple Ways To Help The People Next Door…And Around The World

Simple Ways To Help The People Next Door…And Around The World

In recent decades, major advancements in technology have enabled people to be in constant contact with one another, communicating across the globe in seconds. We can watch world news happening in real-time, answer a question instantly, or share an exciting event with our families and friends with just the click of a button.

When a disaster strikes another country, we are instantly aware of it, with social media updates flooding our timelines. When someone is in need, we know about it quickly. We are connected to each other in unique ways never before possible.

Technology offers amazing opportunities to solve some of humanity’s most critical issues, and yet dependence on it hasn’t had such a positive result. Instead, we’ve become more isolated and disconnected at both the local and global level.

“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backward.” – Aldous Huxley

Societies are becoming more divided, governments are looking inward for their own solutions, and we’re losing our sense of charitable duty toward each other. We have forgotten what it means to be loving, kind, and generous. In all the social media updates, we’ve forgotten how to be humans who care about each other.

But despite finding ourselves in an environment of ever-increasing apathy and self-centeredness, there are actually a multitude of ways to generate a positive impact through practicing altruism, showing compassion, and most importantly, by taking real action.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Step #1: Look Around

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Before you come up with an elaborate plan to achieve world harmony, take a look at the community you live in and formulate ways that you can make a positive contribution. Before you try to change the world, look at your own neighborhood.

A small effort can quickly grow into a remarkable movement, and by starting at the local level, you’ll establish relationships along the way with like-minded fellow citizens that also want to give something back.

Consider the case of Ryan Hreljac, creator of the Ryan’s Well Foundation, which raises money to drill wells for impoverished communities lacking adequate sources of drinking water. Ryan began his effort to help others as a young student in elementary school by raising $2,000 to build a single well in Uganda. Sixteen years later, he now runs a widely recognized non-profit that works to provide access to clean water in communities across the African continent and elsewhere.

Ryan’s work and the success of his foundation prove that one person, with one idea and the right kind of dedication, can start a movement at the local level that ultimately has a global impact and improves the daily lives of thousands of people.

“I think the important thing when I was a kid was that I recognized that I could try to do something small and get engaged. And even though I didn’t have all the answers and didn’t come from a position of affluence or knowledge …I had the optimism to do something small and that ended up making a big difference.” – Ryan Hreljac (Source)

One of the easiest, most obvious ways to make an immediate difference is through volunteering. Nearly every community has a need for volunteers of all different types. Hospitals usually have opportunities for students to help deliver mail and gifts to patient rooms, pass out trays at mealtimes, or help with tasks like changing sheets and blankets.

Non-profit community centers like homeless shelters or women’s homes need people to contribute with housekeeping, serving food to their residents and helping new occupants adjust and integrate into the facility.

Ministries frequently work side-by-side with shelter groups and your local faith-based organization can assist in finding out exactly what needs your community has and how you can best volunteer.  Beyond that, local police and fire departments need citizen enforcers and volunteer firefighters to keep the peace while public schools and libraries frequently struggle to stay within their budgets and will often take all the help they can get.

Step #2 – Start Raising Funds For The Needy

Fundraising is another great way to help the community and promote global citizenship.  Money can be raised in all kinds of ways and for many different causes and reasons.

For example, you might encourage students to start a local scholarship fund for their peers by collecting donations outside of grocery stores or other businesses. Starting an annual drive for coats, shoes, or general clothing is an excellent way to help others in need and some communities have even started a collection for outdated eyeglasses or loose change.

Donation drives place unwanted items into the hands of people that need them and actually have a positive impact on the environment by keeping those donated items from out of the garbage and the local landfill.

Step #3 – Be A Mentor

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You can use the skills from your experience, education, or job to find ways to teach and mentor within the community. Career professionals might establish community workshops for teaching things like CPR, public safety, literacy, or computer skills.

Teachers and college professors might offer classes for English speakers to learn another language or to teach English to non-native speakers.  Even if you don’t have a degree or special training, you might still be a great communicator that could mentor at-risk children in afterschool programs or participate in parenting or family support groups.

Step #4 – Help Promote Wellness 

The need for public service is driven by the concept of the common good, or what is in the best interest of everyone involved. In recent years, neighborhoods and communities nationwide have struggled with the health and wellness of their populations and the trend has been moving too fast in the wrong direction.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle has immediate and long-term benefits to society and significantly impacts the viability of the population as a whole.

As of 2016, The American Heart Association reports that “childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking.” (Source)

What are some simple ways you can help? Try inviting neighbors to participate in group activities that get you more active. Donate your time teaching yoga, strength training, or even martial arts if you’re already embracing a healthy lifestyle.

Consider starting a nutrition education program or neighborhood farming cooperative to help people learn about how to grow and build a diet full of nourishing foods.

Finally, working with city council boards or non-profit entities to provide mobile services like immunization clinics or veterinary care brings access to much-needed services directly to people without the means or transportation to access them. Lack of healthcare, nutrition, and physical exercise are major social problems in modern society and implementing measures to combat them will make a huge and potentially lifelong difference in your local community.

Step #4: Look Globally

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At the worldwide level, it can be difficult to devise ways of making a positive contribution and improving global society but it is possible to find ways of reaching out to both individuals and whole communities.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

People all over the world need someone to talk to. You can start out simply by finding a pen pal that you can converse with via traditional mail, e-mail, or even social media.  Plenty of young people lack access to modern technology and offering them a friendly ear and a means to learn about the world outside of their own can be incredibly rewarding on both sides.

Beyond that, finding ways to communicate online with people on the other side of the world exposes you to different cultures, new information, and charitable causes, helping you develop a more open-minded and global perspective.

Step #5: Connect With Organizations Making A Difference

Fundraising at the national or international scale might seem daunting and like a task better suited for large charities and non-government organizations. The truth is that our modern world of constant connectedness gives individuals the same power to raise awareness campaigns as entities like the Red Cross and United Nations.

Web platforms for crowdsourcing funds (like Kickstarter or GoFundMe) give one person the ability to set a goal and start a movement that anyone can then contribute to. Social media services (like Facebook and Twitter) offer a means to get the word out on a global scale.

These technologies put the fundraising power that was previously reserved for large organizations into the hands of ordinary people who can then accomplish something extraordinary.

If you’re more interested in getting up from the computer to make a more hands-on positive impact, volunteering to work for government groups like The Peace Corps that focus primarily on social and economic development outside the United States would be great for someone that feels passionately about class inequality and equal access to opportunity.

Likewise, if you’re on a mission to minimize the negative impacts of climate change, organizations like Greenpeace or The Nature Conservancy are excellent non-profit volunteer groups.

Finally, if poor access to healthcare and lack of medicine in other parts of the world drives your desire to give back, consider supporting charitable professional associations like Doctors without Borders (a.k.a. Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF) and UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Joining a humanitarian or peacekeeping organization can be an extremely fulfilling way of participating in important international efforts while exercising responsible global citizenship.

Conclusion

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Regardless of how you choose to engage in activism, participation in local and national elections by exercising your right to vote is, by far, the most effective way to shift national and international policy and each individual has a civil obligation to participate in the democratic process.

As of the 2016 American election, just over half of eligible Americans participated in voting and the United States ranks twenty-eighth on the list of thirty-five member nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (Source) We, as local residents, as national citizens, or as global humanity, don’t deserve positive change if we aren’t also willing to embrace the democratic process alongside social activism and participate in electing the right leaders for effective social evolution.

“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case, he is justly accountable to them for the injury.” – John Stuart Mill

The Global Sanitation Crisis Is A Huge Problem. The WASH Initiative Can Solve It

The Global Sanitation Crisis Is A Huge Problem. The WASH Initiative Can Solve It

As global crisis that affects over two billion people, water sanitation has turned into the first and primary concern of many of the world’s leading organizations. In fact, the CDC considers water sanitation an essential problem that needs to be solved by the end of this century.

Today, there are about 2.4 billion people without the right kind of sanitation in their regional infrastructure. Clean water, basic toilets, black water disposal, and many things other countries take for granted for survival simply aren’t available in many countries.

Then add the 663 million, and counting, that simply have no access to any water source.

When you stand back and look at the entire problem you get a feel for how massive it is. Something needs to be done in order to solve this problem.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Facts Behind The Crisis

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Let’s look at some statistics to better understand this problem.

  • According to WHO (the World Health Organization) and UNICEF, the region with the highest amount of poor water sanitation is Sub-Saharan Africa, followed closely by Southern and Eastern Asia.
  • Girls are most likely to suffer not only the debilitating ravages of diseases, but the societal consequences of having poor sanitation in their rural settings.  Compared to their male counterparts, one in five girls do not attend school, primarily because they are most likely responsible for collecting water for their family.  In Sub Saharan Africa, 72% of the water collected is done by women.Plus, the arcane and hazardous toilet and latrine installations in schools often prevent girls from further advancing their education, in particular during menstruation.
  • Over eight hundred thousand children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea and related causes each year. In 2012, a study showed that 2,200 children die every single day as a result of diarrheal diseases.
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDS for short) are a direct result of water and hygiene related issues. Bacteria, parasites and viruses run amok in rural regions. Mosquitos, carrying Zika, malaria, and other diseases swarm around sitting water.Guinea Worm Disease (an extremely painful parasitical infection), buruli ulcer, schistosomiasis and hundreds more diseases affect the poor countries at an alarming rate. Less water and sanitation also means less sewage flow, leading to stagnant water and pools, particularly in tropical and subtropical climates. These pools then become breeding grounds for viruses and parasites foreign to that area.
  • Basic sanitation and clean affordable water can end up saving over 17 thousand people a week.
  • By the year 2025, due to overpopulation, 2/3 of the world will face water shortages. To make matters even worse, the other 1/3 will have to deal will a growing strain on their sanitation installations. Drinkable water will become a scarce commodity.
  • Women and girls are more likely to experience violent sexual assaults while either getting water or venturing outside to use the communal defecation pit.
  • Only 3% of the world’s water is drinkable, despite the fact that 75% of the planet is covered by it. Out of that tiny percent, only 1% is actually accessible to humans. The majority of the world’s safe drinkable water tucked away in remote regions.

Solutions To The Global Sanitation Problem

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Global water sanitation is a staggering and serious problem that has become a pivotal concern for many world organizations, and it’s not going away anytime soon. It’s estimated that it will take generations to actually solve the problem. Nonetheless, there are numerous actions and strategies being taken in order to mitigate its advance.

Some governments are taking highly specific approaches that work within their unique circumstances.

As says Tim Brewer notes:

Ethiopia has made a concerted effort to reduce open defecation rates over the past five years,” Wateraid’s policy analyst on monitoring and accountability. “The government came up with a plan of action to get everyone in the country to stop practicing open defecation, and made sure that donors contributing to the sanitation sector also followed the same plan. This hasn’t been the case in Eritrea, where there has been conflict.

Unfortunately, in many cases, one of the most endemic problems is the lack of governmental and regional acknowledgment of the problem. Local governments often turn a blind eye to the dilemma (in many countries, 90% of the investment for any sort of solution comes from the private sector and charity). Unfortunately, there are inherent problems built into the financial and political pillars of most rural countries that fail to prioritize water sanitation in national budgets.

Most governments fail on multiple aspects of the crisis:

  • Water tariffs from formal providers are set so low that they do not cover the operational cost, let alone maintenance and expansion.
  • Long term investment in the sector is non-existent in many regions.
  • There is a chronic lack of human skill and know-how affecting the sector.

In other words, the heavy lifting in most parts is being conducted by private organizations and charities, which is important but not the long term solution. It’s estimated that in order to have a large scale impact on the problem, a great deal of financial aid should be directed to a systemic global reeducation campaign. Knowledge is a key part of solving this crisis.

Another key aspect most organizations and individuals agree on is that the water crisis is in itself an opportunity. It should be viewed not as an insurmountable dilemma but as a chance to help rural and poor communities to grow. Financial investment, manmade infrastructures, and pioneering innovations are critical to tackling the problem.

The United Nations has made it their goal to reach a ambitious and unambiguous target by the year 2030: Every man, woman and child, should have access to a safe water supply and able to go to the toilet in a clean space.

Their main concern is that by the year 2030, there will be an additional 1.5 billion people in the world, and over 60% will be in developing and rural countries. In order to reach their lofty goal, the United Nations and affiliated organizations will have to create a yearly $47 billion financial package.

The UN predicts that in order to actually meet their deadline, the next 5 years will be pivotal. They will have to generate national and international leadership, shining a light on the problem and building the necessary alliances between the private and public sector. It is their belief that the solution lies not only in developing a practical financial mechanism, but also in bridging the educational gap that most politicians seem to have.

What Is WASH?

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Millions of children in the developing world go to schools which have no drinking water or clean latrines – basic things that many of us take for granted. Every child has the right to be in a school that offers safe water, healthy sanitation and hygiene education. – Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the launch of the WASH program.

WASH is a collective term used for the three core issues at stake in many rural communities worldwide: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. These three fundamental issues have to be improved in order to conquer the global sanitation crisis.

With UNICEF’s leadership, and in many cases example, many organizations are meeting head on the colossal problem affecting the poor. The WASH initiative values the idea of dedicated target strikes on different areas while promoting sustainable goals for a region.

How does WASH play out specifically?

WATER:

The first leg of UNICEF’s initiative deals with providing access to protected wells and piping – of gifting communities with safe underground water sources.

SANITATION:

It is fundamental to have facilities that separate human waste from human contact. In many cases, communal latrines or open defecation is the norm, with ineffective separation of fecal matters and lack of a waste disposal units contaminating the ecosystem and general health of the village.

HYGIENE:

In many parts of the world, there is little thought given to common hygiene practices. A lack of soap, safe water or adequate washing facilities cause diseases to spread quickly. UNICEF’s wants to help change this mindset in many communities, with educational awareness being key to fighting pandemics.

UNICEF’s Results:

So far, the results from WASH have been positive:

  • More than 7.6 million people have received improved access to drinking water.
  • 3.1 million have benefited from improved agricultural water management.
  • Hundreds of sanitation stations have been implemented in rural countries.
  • Thanks to the USAID’s assistance, WASH has managed to collect over 499 million dollars for their endeavors.

Conclusion

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Though the global sanitation crisis isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, positive steps are being taken to address it. As more communities are educated on the importance of proper sanitation, we should expect to see continued improvements. Additionally, as infrastructure is built in these communities, some of the long term problems should slowly disappear.

Manoj Bhargava said:

People with water-borne diseases occupy more than 50% of hospital beds across the world. Does the answer lie in building more hospitals? Really, what is needed is to give them clean water.

We wholeheartedly agree.