MANILA – Think about this the next time you’re brushing your teeth and feel lazy about shutting off the faucet: every second that that tap is running, liters of clean, potable water are going down the drain.
While all over the world, people are dying of thirst and diseases from the lack of clean drinking water.
The World Health Organization predicts that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
In the Philippines alone, more than 14 million Filipinos do not have access to safe water, according to the last Annual Poverty Indicators Survey, released in 2013.
This reality is further aggravated by natural hazards such as typhoons and earthquakes, when our country’s water systems are also vulnerable to damage.
Consider how 67 percent of households struck by Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013 lost access to drinking water, according to USAID. 18 percent of the affected water districts were rendered useless after the disaster, and 44 percent were only partially operational.
Last year, 18 provinces were declared under a state of calamity due to the effects of El Niño.
Water shortages also lead to poor sanitation. This in turn leads to outbreaks of disease. Crops are killed. Farmers sell property for food. Children are caught in a circle of poverty, crime, violence, and more despair.
Women have to walk hours just to collect water. Others make do with drinking water from dirty wells then get sick because of it.
Wasteful use of water
Yet Filipinos also use more water than other nationalities do. The annual rate of total water use per person in the Philippines is 872 cubic meters. This is way higher than the global average, which is 506 cubic meters. This is according to AQUASTAT, the global water information system of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.
The country’s growing population, the increase in people’s wealth, and inefficient use contribute to the stress on our water supply.
To make water use more efficient, USAID recommends fixing leaky faucets, showers, and toilets. Washing of cars should be less frequent, and long showers should be avoided. Rainwater must be harvested too.
Think about this: just as lack of water is not just about thirst, saving lives is not just about delivering bottled water.
Volunteers step up: Waves for Water
In the aftermath of Yolanda, Cebuano surfer Carlo Delantar found a way to merge his passion for water with the urgency of providing relief.
Delantar volunteered with Waves for Water (W4W), an organization that provided water filters to communities where deep wells and water tanks were destroyed. This proved to be a better long-term solution than just continually bringing in bottled water.
Delantar accompanied other volunteers to affected communities in Leyte, Samar, Northern Cebu, and Palawan.
Since then, he has become country director of W4W. It is now his vocation to work with W4W in communities in the Philippines and the rest of Asia.
Just like W4W, Colgate is advocating for people to start conserving water as part of its #EveryDropCounts campaign.
Colgate is working on the premise that the lack of access leads to problems and disasters, improving access breaks that deadly cycle, and gives all efforts a greater chance of success.
As Delantar learned, every effort to improve people’s access to water has a ripple effect.
Do your part. Turn off the tap.