If you’re fortunate enough to live in a wealthy country, you probably don’t give clean water much thought. With just the turn of a fixture, it flows from a tap. You don’t have to risk your safety or mourn the death of a loved one who died from a waterborne illness. 

The rest of the world isn’t as fortunate. Approximately one in every three people live without access to clean water. And more than half a million children under the age of five perish from disease caused by polluted water each year, mostly in developing countries. You may have heard all these massive numbers already. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to understand that this is a significant issue, possibly the single most critical issue facing the world.

The numbers are staggering, but they’re not just numbers. They’re beloved family members and friends. They’re children who will never have the opportunity to experience life who leave behind families who had hopes and dreams for them. 

Without clean water, crops can’t grow, livestock can’t thrive, and economies can’t prosper. 

The Link Between Clean Water and Poverty

Clean water is the foundation of life, the world’s most essential resource. Nothing is sustainable without water, which makes access to safe water a fundamental factor in eliminating poverty.

At some point, you probably learned that no one could survive more than a few days without water, but because you have easy access to it, it’s not in the forefront of your mind. You don’t have to think about the tremendous impact of going without clean water. People can’t stay healthy without access to clean water, go to work, go to school, grow crops or vegetation for safe consumption. The absence of clean water makes it impossible for economies to prosper.

That’s the reality for nearly a billion people in the world who experience water scarcity, plunging more than nine percent of the global population to live in poverty—most of them children.

3 Ways Clean Water Alleviates Poverty

There are various ways that access to clean water can eliminate poverty, and they’re all interwoven.

  1. Better Health Outcomes

Using contaminated water makes people sick, and when people are sick, they can’t work to earn money, and they can’t attend school to work toward a better future. Estimates are that 80 percent of illnesses are due to drinking and washing with polluted water. The death of a family’s income provider is not only emotionally devastating but can also drive a family deeper into poverty.

  1. Improved Agricultural Results

Agriculture is a vital source of income and healthy food. An enormous amount of water is required to grow food. Globally we use 70 percent of our water sources for agriculture and only 10 percent for domestic uses. Experts calculate that 84 percent of the population without access to clean water live in rural communities. With clean water, crops aren’t irrigated with dirty water, so the community isn’t forced to eat contaminated food, making them healthier.

  1. Increased Educational Opportunities

The burden of collecting water falls on girls and women, who spend an estimated 200 million hours fetching water every day. That investment of time takes away their ability to work and attend school. Also, they risk possible physical injuries from carrying heavy loads of water and face the possibility of violent attacks from wild animals and men, both of which can prevent them from getting an education or providing for their family.

The Water Crisis is Solvable

If it all sounds like bad news and overwhelming, think about this: together, we can empower people to overcome the cycle of poverty by providing them with clean water. Hebrews 13:16: “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God,” is at the very heart of the Christian Relief Fund’s mission to bring hope and help to orphaned and vulnerable children. Each of us has the power to change these devastating numbers. The matching gift fund through Christian Relief Fund doubles your donations, enabling CRF to build more wells to deliver clean water to thousands of people. Even simply sharing the message with your family and friends can help.