Sharon welcomed the listeners and talked about the importance of water in life and life in water. She said that it is imperative for everyone to realize the importance of water, to drink plenty of water and to carry water with them if they are unsure of a water source. Dehydration, or lack of water, is out of control in our world and causes or contributes to ailments from allergies to obesity.
Guest: Jerry Wiles, PhD
Jerry Wiles, PhD (Houston, TX), Director of Living Water International, "Providing life-giving water to the world's needy."
Dr. Wiles is Director is Living Water International, a Christian organization that provides water to rural areas, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and South America. He began his career teaching at the college level, then became involved in missionary work. He was recruited by Living Water seven years ago.
The organization was founded in 1991, with the original intent to build churches until they discovered the terrible worldwide need for reliable and sanitary water. Since then, they have funded 7,000 wells, serving 7 million people.
Although much of their financing is by volunteer help and private donation, they also have corporate sponsors, including oil companies. Oil and water well drilling have many transferable concepts and often, in desert areas, finding water can be of greater economic importance than finding oil.
Dr. Wiles pointed out that without good water, there can be no economic development or meaningful health care. A village can get by with no electricity but must have water. Currently, one billion people in the world (of 6.8 billion) lack access to abundant and safe water. 2.8 billion lack basic sanitation (toilets and sinks).
The Living Water program involves numerous women who would otherwise spend their entire days walking to get water (usually from a contaminated source such as a river or lake) and carrying it back. Freeing women and children from this task is also a human rights issue. Women become free to involve themselves in the community and children are free to go to school. LWI also provides hygiene training (such as hand washing), training in health and sanitation and training in well maintenance and water quality monitoring (well water is less likely to be contaminated than surface water but water from deep wells can contain toxic minerals).
Sharon talked about the humidity in the air and the importance of water in oxygen absorption by the lungs and skin surface.
LWI mostly supplies hand pumps, which break frequently (there are currently over 100,000 broken hand pumps in Africa) and do not supply toilets or sinks (But it's the first step). Currently, LWI receives ten times more requests than they can handle. They have built wells, and founded community based organizations to administer them, in over 70 countries.
In response to Sharon's question, Dr. Wiles stated that regions with the most serious need are Sub-Saharan Africa and India. In Africa, a single hand pump can serve 500 to 5,000 people (average is 1,500). There is a well that serves 35,000 people. Their water may also be used for irrigation and by animals but the main focus by far is on human drinking water.
Sharon noted that dehydration begins at birth and that Earth's human mission is to take care of life, health and water. She believes that to achieve this, people worldwide must work together. Water affects everybody, including health and national security. Only 1% of the world's water is fresh, available for drinking and not tied up in ice or ground water, or used for agriculture. However, most of that 1% is polluted.
India has 1.2 billion people and not enough water. Even in places with running water, systems are non-functional for much of the day and most people who can afford it drink bottled water. Trans-national water sources are also an issue (such as China's intent to dam the Bramhaputra River, one of India's largest, which originates in the Himalayas). China also has major water problems and in some cities, houses have separate spigots for "utility water" and "drinkable water."
In Kenya, the world's largest game concentrations are threatened by increasing human population and vanishing rivers. Lake Victoria is badly polluted but probably can be reclaimed (much like the Charles River in Boston).
Sharon observed that in the Netherlands, they have been conserving and managing water for 800 years, and that the first regional governments were Dutch "Water Boards."
Dr. Wile talked about the "Silent Tsumani" in which more people in the world are dying of water related illnesses (such as malaria and diarrhea) than any other cause. In Africa, each individual uses about 5 gallons of water per day. In the US, the number is 150 gallons per day. In poor rural areas, clean and abundant water can immediately reduce disease by 80%.
Water, Sharon and Dr. Wile agree, is truly the "universal vaccine," although its importance in health is too often overlooked. The good news is that people can learn and change.
Final words: Become more aware of the global water crisis and then, become involved! Website: www.water.cc.
Categories: Health and wellness; international health organizations; water and sanitation; 2010