Two months ago, the mayor of Desdunes, Haiti, expressed muted satisfaction with the progress his town has made in protecting its citizenry from unsafe drinking water. The water, he told a worker from an aid agency, was “about 60 percent safe,” meaning that it still had to be boiled. And just on the edge of town where cholera had just broken out again, only one person had died. In 2011, about 20 people in town had died from the water-borne disease.
Giving thanks, it seems, is not only personal but relative.
It would be remarkable if anyone gathered at a Thanksgiving Day meal offered thanks for glass of clean water. Like any other service we pay for, such as electricity or cable television, we expect quality water will be available when we want it. And so we should.
Yet, as we draw our next sip, we might want to reflect on the remarkable achievement that glass of water represents—particularly when we consider these statistics:
- 884 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is roughly one in eight of the world’s population.
- 2.6 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation, this is almost two fifths of the world’s population.
- 1.4 million children die every year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. This amounts to around 4,000 deaths a day or one every 20 seconds. (WHO)
- The weight of water that women in Africa and Asia carry on their heads is commonly 40 pounds, the same as an airport luggage allowance.
- The average North American uses 400 liters of water every day, while the average person in the developing world uses 10 liters of water every day for their drinking, washing and cooking. (Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council)
Of course, you can always give more than thanks. United Water employees regularly do by donating their time, expertise and contributions to Aquassistance, the humanitarian arm of United Water parent SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, or Water For People, a non-profit dedicated to empowering and engaging people to change water poverty.
United Water, for one, is thankful for their services. And we are thankful for our dedicated employees who treat and deliver safe, clean and reliable water throughout North America every day.