The Cost of Clean Water


I am going to tell you a little story about water.

There was a young woman in a remote village in Ethiopia who had to walk 8 hours everyday to fetch water for her family to use for cooking and drinking. This water that she walked eight hours to retrieve wasn’t clean, but it was water, and it was the only water that her family had access too.

As she arrived home one day from her water trek, she slipped on a loose stone and fell, spilling the water she had carried and worse, breaking the family’s only clay water pot, which represented a $3 investment. This was a monumental loss for the family, and the young woman simply could not face her family with the news of what had happened. They family found her later, having hung herself in shame for her mistake and what it had cost the family.

The worst part of this story is not the dirty water, or the hours she had to trek to retrieve it, nor her fall or the spill it caused, or even the loss of the crucial clay pot. It’s not even her suicide.

It’s that the young woman in question was thirteen years old.

Let that sink in.

A young woman whose biggest worries ought to be boys, schoolwork and the state of her complexion ended her life because she could not face having made the simple human error of slipping on a loose rock, because it cost her family the only water they would have for the day, and the expensive and critical vessel in which to carry that water, everyday.

I heard this story today from Scott Harrison on the Rich Roll Podcast. He is the mastermind behind an organization called Charity Water. The mission of this organization is as simple and as critical as getting access to clean water to everyone on the planet.

As of today, 1 in 10 people on the planet do not have access to clean water. I knew that statistic before today, but it was just numbers. Yes, they were horrible numbers, but my understanding of them was purely intellectual.

Hearing the story I related above brought those numbers home to me in a very real, very visceral way. As of the writing of this blog, my daughter is 9 years old. Immediately, I saw her in the place of the girl in the story, and I realized how real the lack of water is for the people in her village, and for all of the 1 in 10 other real breathing people that do not have access to clean water.

Listen to the podcast, as Rich explores lots of things with Scott and opens up the issue of access to clean water in a way that I hadn’t before heard.

It’s real.

The people it affects are real.

The consequences are more dire than you could imagine.

The good news is that Charity Water works hard and has funded 24,537 water projects for 7 million people around the world. They are using our money with the goal of providing clean water to everyone in the world, reducing the 1 in 10 to zero.

I am so grateful they are.


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