We take water for granted when it flows from our kitchen faucet, but for millions in less developed countries, safe drinking water remains a matter of life and death. Diarrheal diseases kill around two million children every year, and contaminated water is often to blame. In rural areas where pipe infrastructure is too expensive or too hard to maintain, water collection from sources like wells, streams, or springs can take hours each day, a burden that falls primarily on women and young children. And despite the hours of walking time, the sources they must use are often unsafe.
With so many people relying on the same water sources to collect water for drinking and cooking, wash dishes and clothes, and provide for livestock, it’s hard to keep those sources clean. Fecal contamination from surface rainwater runoff makes matters worse. The UN Millennium Development Goal of reducing under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds can only be achieved if diarrhea-related mortality can be drastically reduced. To do so, expanding access to safe water will be key.