Blog Action Day: Poverty

October 15, 2008 is Blog Action Day, an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. The aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.

I am once again happy to include the Reiki Help Blog in this effort. This year the theme is Poverty. Last year it was The Environment and you can revisit my contribution.

The organizers have suggested that a blogger may publish on the subject, donate, or promote Blog Action Day. I’ve chosen to do all three. Poverty is a complex global challenge. It would require serious study to fully grasp all its implications and intricacies (resources below).

Since action is often most effective when it’s practical, I’m going to focus on one area:

The availability of clean, potable water to all the populations of the world.

Currently over one billion people lack access to simple, life-sustaining clean water. That works out to be 1 in 6 of us. This also ties in with the lack of basic sanitation, which 2.6 people lack globally.

What does lack of clean water and basic sanitation have to do with poverty? Drilling a well can cost from $4,000 – $ 12,000. 

Unfortunately:

  • Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.
  • More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.
  • Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%.
  • 1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometer, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 liters per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 liters of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)
  • Some 1.8 million children die each year as a result of diarrhea.
  • The loss of 443 million school days each year from water-related illness.
  • Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.
  • Millions of women spend several hours a day collecting water.
  • To these human costs can be added the massive economic waste associated with the water and sanitation deficit. The costs associated with health spending, productivity losses and labor diversions… are greatest in some of the poorest countries. (GlobalIssues.org–Causes of Poverty.)

Unsafe water and poor sanitation play a major role in the transmission of diseases including Diarrhea, Cholera, Malaria, and Typhoid. The lack of access to clean water and sanitation translates into lost educational opportunities, particularly for women and girls. Time spent collecting water – often many hours each day – means girls do not have time to attend school.  Studies show that girls are 12% more likely to attend school if water is available within 15 minutes from home versus a one hour’s walk. Young girls are also less likely to attend classes if the school does not have adequate and separate toilets for girls.  In addition, water-related illnesses increase absenteeism for all children and result in a loss of over 443 million school days globally each year. (One.org.)

Recently I came across charity: water, a non profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. charity: water says thatonly! (my italics) $20 can give a person in Africa clean, safe drinking water for 20 years.” I donated then and I’m donating again today.

Please join me!

Our planet is 70% water. 97.5% of that is saltwater. This means only 2.5% is available for the 6 billion people on the planet today. We get our water from the 30% of freshwater that exists in underground lakes and aquifers – mainly by digging wells.  Many communities in developing nations often have a plentiful supply of clean water just below the ground, but no way to get to it. Here’s where we, and our partner organizations come in. The local community is engaged in the well building process, carrying out small tasks for free to reduce labor costs. This also encourages community participation and ensures community ownership after the project is complete. When the well is built, a water committee is formed. It generally consists of 6-8 people, half of them female. In the case of hospitals, the committee will generally consist of nurses and hospital staff. In schools, the committee would likely be comprised of teachers. (charity: water.)

While we’re on the subject of poverty, let me introduce two other organizations.

A) End Poverty 2015: This is the historic promise 189 world leaders made at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 when they signed onto the Millennium Declaration and agreed to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs are an eight-point road map with measurable targets and clear deadlines for improving the lives of the world’s poorest people. World leaders have agreed to achieve the MDGs by 2015. The eight goals are:

  1. End Hunger
  2. Universal Education
  3. Gender Equity
  4. Child Health
  5. Maternal Health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS
  7. Environmental Sustainability
  8. Global Partnership

B) ONE: A campaign of over 2.4 million people and growing from all 50 states and over 100 of America’s most well-known and respected non-profit, advocacy and humanitarian organizations. ONE seeks to raise public awareness about the issues of global poverty, hunger and disease and to ask our leaders to do more to fight these problems in developing countries.

You can sign the ONE Declaration.

You can also petition Senators Obama and McCain to keep their commitments to fight global poverty.

Thank you for your time, effort, donations, volunteerism, and heart.

It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.
-Albert Einstein

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
-Maya Angelou

I do not know what your destiny will be, but the one thing I know: the only ones among you who will really be happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.
-Albert Schweitzer

Update 12/18/08: There’s a new effort today to donate to charity: water by Laura Fitton of Pistachio Consulting.

  • Bee Bee

    We are running out of water, right here, where I live. Wells are running dry, people can’t afford to drill new and deeper ones, and “Deep Creek” that supplies our water was called “Shallow Creek” by a five year old last year. It holds less water today. Still, we do not have mandatory water conservation in place. Voluntarily, water use is down though. Our town was talking about “selling water” to someone. How? We are running out. What a strange country, we are!

    When I shopped for groceries last week, people from a food pantry were out front asking that people shop for others who have no food. I shopped for them also. This is where I will be placing my focus. There is much poverty around here. Many people do not have money to heat their homes, or shacks. Their water, if provided by the town, will be cut off. It is not like a large city where social programs exist that will pay your bill for you. There are Mexican immigrants here, a long way from home, and now unemployed.

    Have you noticed that the Presidential candidates keep promising to help the middle class, but not the poor. I realize the middle class has long been neglected, and that without a middle class the economy will fail (might be too late). Still, a word or two about those who have next to nothing in this country is called for.

    I am not trying to imply that all of us should focus on people in need here and not in some other country. I am only stating what I choose to do at this time.

  • http://www.openone.net Aurora Carlson

    Dear Pamir,
    Thank you for your blog, it is very obvious how passion is moving you to help our world.

    I see water as a symbol of our inner flow, the flow of consciousness. I truly believe that when we open our hearts, abundance of everything we need will start flowing into our world. Creation starts inside ourselves and manifests as our outer symbols, of which water is most basic. In other words, to see an outer flow of water, food, abundance of all kinds, we need to do the inner work of removing the blockages.
    Thank you for your upgoing energy!
    Love,
    Aurora

  • http://reikihelp.com/blog Pamir

    Bee Bee, thanks for your participation here. There’s no doubt that the environment globally requires our care & attention. Creeks drying out, extreme weather patterns, species extinction & so many other factors are a part of our reality now. And yes every country has its own challenges. It’s an ongoing conundrum that the wealthiest nation in the world has such high levels of the homeless, poverty, illiteracy, and the uninsured. These are all challenges that future leaders, and all of us citizen leaders will inherit.

    Any help is good help, so keep doing what you feel is right. Just a quick point about scale & perspective however: Poverty as a global situation is interdependently every person’s concern, it doesn’t serve the human family to separate because extreme poverty is occurring in places we’re not sure we can even find on a map. And these souls are living on less than $1 a day.

  • http://reikihelp.com/blog Pamir

    Welcome Aurora! Obviously hearts & minds need to open before there’s action, but action is necessary; it can’t just remain on the level of the symbolic.

  • http://www.openone.net Aurora Carlson

    Thank you for the welcome, Pamir!
    What you say reminds me of a sentence from the website of the Alliance for a New Humanity: action without love is meaningless and love without action is irrelevant.

    I agree, absolutely…

    But I also know that action can be on many levels, if one has gained access to them. As you know, what we are doing on the WHF is action in consciousness, which is the most powerful action there is. A large group of meditators meditated on peace together just before the Berlin Wall fell- did you know that? So as we do our outer doings, let’s not forget to do the inner ones first :)

    love,
    aurora

  • http://reikihelp.com/blog Pamir

    When the Berlin Wall fell, I predicted that the one remaining system for society would have to update itself sooner or later, that it too would become inviable. In the last 2-3 weeks we’ve seen this happen in the global free market system.

    The purpose of Blog Action Day is simple & direct. Educate and move people to action. Sometimes clicking the donation link I provided does more good.

    I know & spend a lot of time helping others understand that Consciousness is primary. Ultimately, that being the model is going to bring about the substantial transformation humanity, society & the Earth desperately needs.

    It isn’t in the mainstream however, no matter how true it may be. All of us who subscribe to Consciousness being primary do our part in mainstreaming it. That is as it should be.

    I do wonder however if an approach utilizing multiple channels is more effective. And there is the consideration that certain situations come to a head through the build up of momentum. I’m sure Consciousness played a part in bringing the Wall down too.

    Further, as far as giving & action is concerned to eliminate global Poverty, people give & take action for various reasons: guilt, tax shelter, social proof, i.e., others are giving, to feel good about themselves, etc.

    It’s worth wondering if the inner workings of action in Consciousness is reachable by most, not in the sense that they couldn’t, but only that is it even in the conversation. Are the majority of people considering such truths?

    I know that all of us who are, help bring these considerations to the forefront for everyone else. In the meantime some simple, direct action is always just fine where I sit.

  • http://kome-rocks.santacruzdreamz.com lisa (kystorms)

    Thanks for such a great post, poverty is a disease we CAN cure.

    :-)

  • http://www.imjustsharing.com/ Mitch

    Thanks for taking a different perspective on this topic of poverty today. Honestly, I didn’t know any of the statistics you gave on water; never even thought about it until I read this. Very illuminating information.

  • http://www.nowtheheartsings.blogspot.com/ Meredith

    There was a little write-up about Scott Harrison, the founder of charity:water, in the New York Times Magazine last Sunday.

    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/10/07/magazine/20081012-STYLE_4.html

  • http://reikihelp.com/blog Pamir

    *Lisa, thanks for stopping by. CAN is a powerful word. Poverty is a dis-ease we CAN heal.

    *Mitch, welcome. I’m going to go over & read your blog next. Statistics are boring until they help us understand our world in a meaningful way. I’m glad it was illuminating for you.

    *Meredith, hello again. That’s an eye-opening snapshot of Harrison!

  • http://www.openone.net Aurora Carlson

    Dear Pamir,
    I agree with you, all action in the direction of evolution is very important. We all need to take that action from the deepest point in our heart, and that means that whatever we do that is in accord with our own make up will be exactly what we need to do. Every unit of this wholeness needs to take the step that is true for them right now, and doing so will expand the individual’s consciousness. Therefore, whatever action or combination of actions we feel inspired to take, let us do that, with as much detachment as we can naturally access.
    Kudos to you for living your passion and keeping the energy in motion :)
    love,
    aurora

  • Bee Bee

    Extreme Poverty:Definition:No food, water, shelter…wherever you are. Pamir, you can try to be as gentle as possible, but you criticized me anyway. I let it be for days before responding because I wanted to make sure I understood my feelings. The rest of you, stroke each other, etc. Goodbye from me.

  • anne in Japan

    Thank you Karuna, for this very informative post and for your obvious caring about usable water and its availability. Such a very crucial topic! I have heard that wars of the future will be over water.

    Thank you also for commenting on my post in odemagazine.com. Much appreciated. Anne in Japan

  • http://reikihelp.com/blog Pamir

    Bee Bee, c’mon now this is a conversation. :) It’s not about you or me, it’s about the challenges. Thanks for acknowledging that I was gentle. I acknowledged you and your points too. And it remains true that we are a global village. We’re responsible for each other, and interdependent. If you don’t feel it’s a priority to build wells in Africa, help in your own community. As long as we’re helping…

  • http://reikihelp.com/blog Pamir

    Anne welcome! Your take on spiritual ‘poverty’ was fresh & true. I hope in the future there will no longer be any wars.

  • http://www.openone.net Aurora Carlson

    Bee Bee, I don’t know if you’ll read this, but I just wanted to let you know that I care. There is much suffering everywhere, and the feelings we have when facing it are sometimes tough. I think we all care, we all want to do something, and I think that if you focus on exactly what is around you and do whatever you can to lift your own life or the life of those around you, it is fantastic. I don’t think anyone gains if we let our tempers drive us into who is right and who is wrong… we all want to help, many of us are probably doing it in many ways, and we will do it much more effectively if we understand and support each other. Much love and support for your strivings, aurora

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