If you have water on tap in your home, school, or office, and it’s safe to drink, count your blessings: hundreds of millions of people worldwide don’t. As human population and water demands increase, and as climate patterns shift, some aquifers and rivers are running dry. Many people (disproportionately women and children) walk miles a day just to retrieve clean—or not-so-clean—water to drink, to cook with, and to bathe with. Many communities lack any source of clean water or the means to regularly filter, boil, or chemically sterilize it. Contaminated drinking water spreads diseases that kill millions of children and adults each year.
Through her Expedition: Blue Planet project, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Alexandra Cousteau has spent much of the last year traveling to places where clean freshwater is absent or dwindling. Now she’s joined forces with Live Earth organizers, actress Jessica Biel, the Global Water Challenge, and a host of musicians, athletes, and NGOs to launch the Dow Live Earth Run for Water. The global event, announced today, takes place April 18, 2010 (the Sunday before Earth Day). It includes six-kilometer races and walks, plus concerts, in cities around the world to draw attention to the water crisis, promote water conservation, and raise money for freshwater projects where they’re most needed.
Why six kilometers, and not more standard race distances such as five or ten? Because that’s the distance, says Alexandra, people must typically walk each day to get water in places where it isn’t readily available. The time they spend walking and carrying heavy jugs of water often comes at the expense of education and wage-earning activities, so it can lock entire families and communities into cycles of poverty.
Want another way to help? Teachers, parents, kids, and teens looking for student service learning projects can raise matching funds to bring freshwater to partner schools and communities with H2O for Life.
Images courtesy the Dow Live Earth Run for Water