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Sullied Water

On these warm and humid summer days, we take for granted how easy it is to turn on a faucet and quench our thirst in seconds—and not have to worry about any undesirable effects later. In many countries in the world, this is not a given.The UN General Assembly declared on July 28th 2010 that access to safe and clean drinking water is a human right—one that is unavailable to almost 900 million people in the world.

Lack of clean water and sanitation burdens people of all shapes, colors, and sizes. It is especially detrimental to the youth of this world. Studies have shown that about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year due to diarrhea caused by unsafe water. An estimated 443 million school days are lost to water and sanitation-related diseases.

Many children every day attend schools that cannot offer them clean water to drink or even hygienic latrine facilities. Each school day that is lost carries with it abandoned knowledge and wasted creativity. Further down the line, this will mean a failure to strengthen the workforce of a nation and ultimately will lead to less economic success in these already struggling countries. The gap between the developing and the industrialized world will only continue to expand.

A UN report from late April of this year showed a small amount of funding for water and sanitation could lower health-care costs, raise school attendance, and significantly improve productivity—facts that are not surprising but can be a real difficulty in achieving for many countries.

According to this report, the access of clean drinking water and sanitized conditions can increase a person’s overall economic wealth from $3 to $34 per every dollar invested. This would ultimately increase a country’s GDP by 2-7%. Cleaner conditions create easier access to education that eventually boosts the economic and general well-being of a country.