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Every Day Is World Water Day

By Patrick Carney
I was thirsty and you gave me drink…. Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
—Matthew 25:35, 25:40
Young boy getting bath at a water tap

A young boy in Pulau Aceh, Indonesia, gets cleaned up at a tap provided by Catholic Relief Services. Photo by Sean Sprague for CRS

Each day, 783 million people do not have access to clean water. By supporting Catholic Relief Services, you're following the message of the Gospel and giving water to those most in need around the world.

You Bring Clean Water to Communities

Drought regularly strikes Ethiopia. Yet, despite the lack of rainfall, water is available. Here's the challenge, though: The water flows 1,000 feet below the ground. See how your support has created solutions so some Ethiopians can now reach this precious resource.

You Keep Families Healthy

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, communities often use rivers as a drinking fountain, swimming pool, Laundromat and public toilet. Yet, every day, women fill old fuel cans with the contaminated water and take it back to their families. With your help, families in an eastern Congo village are healthier because they are now able to sanitize the water they collect.

You Help Farmers Flourish During Drought

The drought that struck Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya in 2011 affected more than 12 million people. Although many fled, walking for weeks in search of refugee camps, some farmers in Ethiopia stayed home, tending to their thriving crops and livestock.

World Water Day is held every March 22. Recognized by the United Nations and the global community, World Water Day reminds us that much of the world still faces a global water, sanitation and hygiene crisis, and that it is our urgent obligation to act.

The Global Water Crisis: Facts

  • For every $1 spent on water, sanitation and hygiene programs, there is, on average, a $4 return in productivity.
  • 783 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is roughly 11 percent of the world's population.
  • 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation. This is about 35 percent of the world's population.
  • Around 700,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation—that's almost 2,000 children a day.

Long before the drought struck, your support of CRS irrigation projects helped many of these farmers avoid the worst consequences of this deadly event. See the luscious greens growing on one farm in Ethiopia in the midst of the East Africa drought.

You Provide Water and Sanitation in Emergencies

After a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 2010, one of the city's most pressing needs was clean water and sanitation facilities.

"Before we had water, we were suffering," says Registe Ligenson, a city resident. "For 2 weeks after the earthquake, we didn't have any. People just shared what they had with them from before the earthquake."

You responded to your most needy brothers and sisters. Your support made it possible for CRS to distribute water, build 5,000-gallon water tanks, hire Haitians to build latrines, install hand-washing stations and hire a local graffiti artist to paint messages about the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation. See the faces of the people who received your gift of water after the Haiti earthquake.

You Promote Good Hygiene and Sanitation

In communities without access to sanitary toilets or a place for people to wash their hands, diseases spread quickly. Hygiene education, sanitation facilities and clean water are all critical to keeping people healthy.

When a cholera outbreak followed the 2010 Haiti earthquake, CRS quickly responded with water purification tablets, bleach, hand sanitizer and soap for families to prevent the spread of the disease.

In Sudan, CRS has been working for years to provide health and hygiene education to strengthen communities' capacity to share access to clean water.

Because of your support, 204 households in the West Bank received water recycling units to convert household wastewater into desperately needed irrigation water for their gardens.

You Give the Gift of Water Every Day

Around the globe, people observe World Water Day every March 22. It is a day that reminds us all about the power of clean water and sanitation.

However, together—with supporters like you—CRS recognizes World Water Day all year round. When you support CRS, you are digging wells, keeping families healthy and irrigating plants every day. And when emergencies happen, you are there—continuing to give the lifesaving gift of water to the neediest among us.

How You Can Help

Continue to help our thirsty brothers and sisters around the world:

  • Light a candle in our virtual chapel and pray for those who don't have clean water.
  • Join Catholics Confront Global Poverty to advocate on behalf of men, women and children most in need.
  • Donate now to help CRS continue to provide access to clean water and sanitation facilities to the poorest of the poor.

Patrick Carney is a CRS writer, editor and web producer. He is based in Baltimore, Maryland.

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