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. 


  • 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.

Blog Action Day: Poverty