1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water and 2.4 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation (unesdoc.unesco.org). Because of unsafe drinking water, 4 billion episodes of diarrhea and 3 million deaths occur each year (Stuart Hart, Capitalism at the Crossroads). Most of the deaths strike children under the age of five. Contaminated water can cause cholera, typhoid, viral hepatitis A, dysentery, and dracunculiasis (Guineaworm). At any given time, half of the developing world suffers from one of the diseases associated with unsafe drinking water or inadequate sanitation, with half of their hospital beds occupied by patients suffering from waterborne diseases (wateraid.org/usa/). In addition, within Mexico 30 percent of rural Mexicans do not have access to potable water and 60 percent do not have access to sewer services (cec.org, 2000 statistics).
The root causes are lack of education regarding clean water, and environmental and infrastructure degradation. Those who do not have access to clean drinking water use whatever water is available, jeopardizing their health. Many do not understand the cause and effect relationships among proper wastewater treatment, environmental care and clean drinking water. Short-term, we will address this need for clean water by establishing distribution pathways for in-home water filtration systems. The technology used will vary from watershed to watershed. In all locations, we will work with local entrepreneurs who will provide residents with education, leasing plans, installation and maintenance regarding the filtration systems. Long-term, we will help develop local expertise in each watershed and engage all stakeholders to determine the best long-term solutions. These solutions will likely include public health education and watershed/infrastructure clean up and protection. We will employ water purification systems, increase local employment, and provide health education, sanitation, composting toilets, agricultural and industrial runoff mitigation, and natural wastewater treatment technologies.