Water by the numbers


Water by numbers 
Siem Chansa, 5, bathes in the village of Thmor
Dop in northern Cambodia.
Photo/Paul Jeffrey

For 25 years the ELCA has been committed to serving with compassion people who are most vulnerable.

Through the work of ELCA World Hunger and relationships with partners around the world, the ELCA works to provide relief, development and education to communities across the United States and around the world that experience hunger, poverty and widespread health issues.

One of the keys to the sustainability of a community is its access to clean water. Water is the most abundant resource on the planet: 71 percent of the earth's surface is covered in it. Two-thirds of the human body is made up of water. Your skin is 70 percent water. A tree is 75 percent water.

Water literally falls from the sky.

But in some parts of the world, access to water is scarce. In fact, only about three-tenths of a percent of the earth's water is usable by humans.

The average American uses 152 gallons of water per day — the majority of which comes from flushing toilets. The average five-minute shower requires between 25 and 50 gallons of water.

In Kenya, though, the average person only uses 13 gallons of water per day for drinking, cooking and washing combined. In Cambodia and Uganda, they use only 4. One out of seven people in the world lack access to clean water.

Millions of women around the world spend several hours a day collecting water. On average they walk a three-mile round trip to get this water to their homes.

In many areas of the world a lack of clean water forces farmers to use wastewater for irrigation. As a result, more than 10 percent of people worldwide end up eating foods that could contain disease-causing organisms.

Water-related illnesses result in a loss of 272 million days of school attendance for children, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Close to half of all people in developing countries are suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by dirty water or unsanitary conditions.

Combined, unclean water and poor sanitation are the world's second largest killer of children.

But thanks to the work of ELCA World Hunger and its partners around the world, work is underway to bring clean water to people in nearly 60 countries.

For example, in the United States ELCA congregations and partners are working to provide water to families in rural Arizona and West Virginia who don't have running water.

In the Central African Republic, spring boxes supply fresh water to as many as 2,000 people at a time and last for decades.

In China, irrigation canals bring water to rural communities otherwise without access to water for drinking and farming, and in Sudan, water wells provide clean water to people returning to their homeland after years of war.

To take part and learn how you can help make access to clean water a reality for the entire world, visit the ELCA World Hunger page.
Statistics taken from the 2006 United Nations Development Report and the World Health Organization's March 2009 Water Scarcity Fact File.

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