Friday, July 6, 2012

Children by Cassandra Clifford
World Water Day March 22 2009

Without water a child can live for two weeks or less. In olden days our predecessors were blessed with pristine natural sources of water and the water spirits were their constant companions.  As our species became more resilient and resource rich we built our homes farther and farther from sources of fresh water. Fresh water becomes scarce and distant as we increase and multiply. Children around the world drink polluted water. Some say the wars over water will be as violent and deadly as the wars over oil have been .

From the Foreign Policy Blog

"More than 1 billion people live without access to safe water and 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. Today is World Water Day, and as was stated in post earlier this month, Life or Death in Each Drop, that while we in developing nations take each sip of life saving water for granted, each sip to a child in the developing world could be the drop that kills. Water for as simple as it seems is a complex and global fight, that has yet to see the finish line in sight. While many wonderful and sustainable water initiatives and programs are out there, the increasing population continues to strain the already burdened effort, and water and sanitation issue."

In my study, I was told that "seeing that they get enough to drink" was one way people care for each other. Whether it is a patient in a nursing home who depends upon a nursing assistant to bring her water each day, or a child waiting for his mother to arrive with the days supply of water, making sure that they have enough to drink is an act of care.

One of the most important conclusions I drew from my research is that it was never enough to only look at the caring dyad (patient and caregiver) to predict morbidity and mortality from dehydration. Context, and systematic factors had to be taken into account. In the nursing home participants told me that seeing that they get enough to drink was NOT something they did when staffing was short. It was not considered essential by the staff. So, to predict dehydration, it was important to know the number of staff who were working as well as knowing the vulnerability of the patient to dehydration. When staff were rushed and not atune to look for differences among patients they would simply place a full pitcher of water in the patients room. Without knowing if the patient would drink on their own, or could reach the pitcher, having water was not enough. Patients needed encouragement and sometimes assistance to reach the water or they might as well not have it at all.

In the global disaster that leaves a billion people without fresh water, or a way to clean the water, they have, having water is not enough. As climate change creates both droughts and floods, getting water to those who need it may be as simple as providing containers to collect rain water,  or a means for purifying it. This may not be a major technical feat but choosing to address it effectively may be one of the greatest ethical challenges of our time.

Could a low tech low cost solar water purlfication system bring clean drinking water?

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