This week is Drinking Water Week, a time of the year where we can reflect on the importance of water and show gratitude to the workers who make it accessible to us. Drinking Water Week has been hosted annually since 1988 by the American Water Works Association with the support of agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This year, the theme is “There When You Need It”, which feels especially relevant given the global public health crisis we are all currently going through together. As we all now know, hand-washing is one of the strongest and first lines of defense against COVID-19. This simple act is an immense privilege that most of us don’t recognize. Having access to enough clean water to perform basic hygienic, healthful practices like this is why we at Well Aware do this work. And it’s why we’re in the middle of our first ever WASH (Water and Sanitation and Hygiene) Fund Campaign.
It’s easy for most of us here in the U.S. to take the basic act of washing our hands for granted– to expect that water will always be there when we need it. Safely sheltering in place would be next to impossible without access to running, clean water. Can you imagine not being able to wash your hands, knowing it might be the thing that saves your life?
While we are all self-distancing, washing our hands often, and working remotely, millions of people aren’t afforded these luxuries. Their water is in fact not, ‘there when you need it’. So, we have partnered with Well Beyond to utilize the launch of their new app as they have made a sharp pivot to quickly restructure in order to provide remote and interactive WASH training to our partner communities, most of which are in rural areas. This partnership will help inform how to best protect community members from the spread of coronavirus.
The WHO has emphasized that proper WASH training is the best defense for vulnerable regions in developing countries, but dispatching team members is mostly prohibited by local governments.
You may know that access to clean water and sanitation has been recognized by the UN General Assembly as a human right since 2010, and since then there have been great strides to reduce global water inequity. As of 2015, 91% of the world was able to access an “improved drinking water source” compared with only 76% in 1990. But more work still needs to be done, especially now as we face this time of global uncertainty.
We wanted to share this information with our supporters, in an attempt to remind us, and unite us. To show some much-needed gratitude and appreciation for our workers here in the U.S. who make sure water is there when we need it for most of us. But to also ensure that we continue this work in East Africa, in a new, equally important way, as we all get used to this new normal.