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.)