World Water Day, March 22, International Medical Corps brings clean water, sanitation to millions worldwide

Report
from International Medical Corps
Published on 20 Mar 2009 View Original
Los Angeles, Calif. - World Water Day, March 22, draws attention to the more than one billion people around the world who are without clean water. In addition, nearly 3 billion live without sanitation services. Because of this, five million die every year due to waterborne disease.

"If a community does not have clean water, it is impossible to improve public health in the long-term," says Steve Commins, Fragile States Manager and water expert for International Medical Corps. "Even if we train communities to practice basic care, if they are drinking unsafe water, they are constantly threatened by waterborne illnesses, including cholera, diarrhea, and typhoid."

Children are most affected by waterborne disease; an estimated 4,500 die every day. The devastating affects can be seen in Zimbabwe where 4,000 people have died and nearly 84,000 have been infected in a cholera outbreak that began eight months ago.

The world water crisis also prevents many children from going to school. According to the 2006 Human Development Report, 440 million school days are lost every year because children are either sick or have to walk an average of five miles each day to fetch water.

For 25 years, International Medical Corps has made clean, safe water available by building safe water and waste management systems and teaching safe hygiene practices. In its emergency response efforts, IMC provides survivors of natural and man-made disasters with fresh water and water storage tanks.

Some of IMC's specific water sanitation programs include:

In Iraq, International Medical Corps has worked to complete 260 water and sanitation projects that benefit more than two million people.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, International Medical Corps uses gravity-fed water systems to give clean water to 10,000 people in North Kivu.

In Kenya, International Medical Corps is working in the arid Samburu District to build 2,000 latrines for schools and safe water systems for 45,000 people with a grant from the Ethos Water Fund and the Starbucks Foundation.

In Ethiopia, International Medical Corps brings safe water and community hygiene education to 650,000 people with a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

World Water Day was designated by the UN in 1992 to draw international attention to the lack of clean water and sanitation around the world and its devastating health effects. To help International Medical Corps combat the world water crisis, please visit: www.imcworldwide.org/wwd2009.