Americans’ relationship to water is fairly simple. We turn on a faucet, or head to the grocery store, and find clean, cool, drinkable water at our fingertips. But while water covers more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, less than 1 percent of that is freshwater. And of that available drinking water, much of it is contaminated with pollutants, agricultural runoff and bacteria, especially in developing countries. So for millions of people across the world, access to water is anything but straightforward. In fact, 900 million people do not have access to fresh water on a daily basis.

The world’s ongoing water dilemma was the inspiration behind World Water Day – an annual day hosted by the UN, and meant to focus attention on the importance of freshwater, and advocate for its protection and equal distribution amongst the world’s 7 billion people.

This year’s focus is, interestingly, food. As it turns out, everything we eat from hamburgers to cereal takes water to produce – and lots of it. And severe droughts, which seem to have become increasingly common in recent years, are the most common cause of severe food shortages in developing nations. (Remember: no water, no plants, no food.)

Looking for a way to quench your thirst for service? World Water Day offers a fantastic opportunity to learn more about this important issue, and teach others as well. To make a difference, find an official World Water Day event near you here, or start your own event using the materials found here. Or, check out one of the organizations below, which are all working to make the world’s water safer and more accessible.

  • charity: water – a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations.
  • Water.org – co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White, a nonprofit organization driving the water sector for new solutions, new financing models, greater transparency, and real partnerships to create lasting change.
  • We Are Water Foundation – working to create a new culture around water use and management. Check out their “We Eat Water” app for your smart phone.
  • SPNI – an Israel-based organization focused on environmental issues, including water issues across the country.
  • Clearwater Initiative – an organization that works to provide drinkable water to populations in need and educate about the importance of clean water.

How are you celebrating World Water Day? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld