Sarah Davidson is the International Water Policy Advisor at The Nature Conservancy.
This year, I celebrated Earth Day 2013 by participating in a Walk for Water in Washington, DC along with the US State Department, USAID, the Embassy of Sweden, Conservation International, WWF and WASH Advocates. It was a great day to spend outside in the sun instead of in front of the computer.
But, more importantly, it was exciting to be surrounded by people who realize water is central to the daily lives of everyone on our planet. The walk provided an opportunity to reflect on how important nature is to making sure people have clean water.
The 6k walk — a reminder of the average distance women and children must walk every single day in Africa and Asia to collect water — wound along the Potomac River, which serves as the drinking water source for Washington, DC. It was a fitting symbol that, whether you live in DC or a rural village in Kenya, our water comes from nature.
In fact, the role healthy forests, lakes and rivers play in helping to keep water clean and available is especially important for those women and kids around the world who are walking six kilometers a day for water — there’s no treatment center making sure the water they take out of the river is safe to drink and no storage facility to ensure that their walk doesn’t double during times of drought.
I was heartened to see the enthusiasm for this issue from Conservancy supporters on Facebook, where the post about our plans to Walk for Water started a great conversation, with many hundreds of likes and reshares.
Reading through the comments, people reminded their friends and family of the urgency of addressing global water challenges together.
One of the most touching to me was from a public library children’s room in Rochester, New Hampshire. Hopefully, some kids who were introduced to the reality facing far too many children their own age will be inspired to join us to protect water sources and help increase quality and availability for people, whether it’s in their own town or across the world.
Do you know where your water comes from?
Download: See why a number of conservation and development organizations think it makes more sense to work together than apart to protect the environment and increase access to drinking water and sanitation »
[Image: Women and children in developing countries walk 6 kilometers (3.75 miles) each day to collect water for their families. Image source: Ami Vitale]