Striking Photos Show How Important This Basic Necessity Really Is

by Meghan Demaria, originally published on March 22, 2016


If you have access to clean water, you probably don’t think twice about it, at least not on a daily basis. We hardly ever think about what it would be like not to have clean water — we turn on the tap at home, grab a bottle after a long run, and barely even notice when the waiter comes to refill our water glass. But for millions of people, having access to clean water isn’t a sure thing.

According to UNICEF, roughly 663 million people worldwide don’t have access to clean drinking water, while 2.4 billion people across the globe don’t have access to sanitation facilities. Almost 1,000 children die every day because of illnesses caused by a lack of clean water, which is one of the leading causes of death for children younger than five years old, UNICEF notes.

But helping people around the world get clean water doesn’t have to be complicated. In honor of World Water Day on March 22, the UNICEF Tap Project is raising money to help provide clean water to children and families. The organization says just $15 can help provide a year of clean water.

You can donate the traditional way here, scroll down the page, or you can take UNICEF’s unique challenge: by visiting their website on a smartphone, and then not using your phone for just five minutes, you’ll unlock a donation from Giorgio Armani Fragrances and S’well that’s equivalent to the cost of water for one day for a child in need. Both companies are also offering donations to UNICEF from the sales of their products this month.

Want to see the impact you’re making by donating your time and money? Ahead, UNICEF shares striking images of refugee families whose lives have been changed by access to clean water.

Amal, pictured with her five children, on the street where they live in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. The family fled their home in Syria after their house was destroyed during the conflict. To the right are 15 large plastic containers that represent the amount of water the family uses each day. A water tank has recently been installed that serves the whole street.

“In a camp, it is dusty and dirty,” Amal told UNICEF. “Before [the tank was installed] when we didn’t clean so much due to not having enough water, we were getting scabies and lice. There used to be scabies all over the camp, so hygiene is really important. When I came here, the situation was horrible. The young girls were working, carrying water back to the houses. Because of the chaos outside, the people on the streets, the girls carrying water, I didn’t want my girls to get involved, so I only let them go to school.”

Girls and young women fill containers at a series of taps at a water point in the Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania. Water scarcity is increasing as more refugees flee from conflict in Burundi.

UNICEF’s efforts to deliver water to Burundian families and children form a critical part of the response to the emergency — which ranges from repairing and replacing pumps to delivering chlorine, trucking in water by road, and bringing jerrycans and water purification tablets to refugee families living in shelters.

Girls fill jerrycans at a water point in a collective center in Karkh District, Iraq, that provides temporary accommodation and protection to displaced populations. UNICEF has installed water tanks and separate latrines for men and women, and provided kits to test the water quality, as well as soap and other sanitary items.

Gaderiya, a Syrian mother of four, and her son, Esa, live in a refugee camp in northern Iraq. Gaderiya described to UNICEF the conditions when they first arrived at the camp: “Every other hour, my children were forced to walk a long way to a central tank and use plastic containers to collect water. Supply was very limited, and at times, there would be disagreements between families about how much water each person should get. If there is a lack of water, you can’t do anything.”

Since a water tank was installed close to the family’s tent, life has become much easier. “Before we had the tank, my children could only wash every three days,” Gaderiya told UNICEF. “Now, they have more clean water to drink, and they can wash every two days. I am also able to wash our clothes and sheets more regularly which helps keep us all healthier.”

Bello, 12, washes his hands at a hand pump outside his school before going to class, in the Dar es Salam camp in Chad. Bello, who is attending school for the first time, is a refugee from Nigeria.

Mohammed, 5, Danya, 11, and Mo’men, 4, splash each other with water in the Za’atari refugee camp, Jordan. The family fled their Syrian village in September of 2012, when it was overtaken by military forces. During the summer months, families use water to combat the brutal heat.

Boys in the Al Jamea’a Camp, Iraq, wash their hands with soap after learning about cholera prevention and treatment. Globally, illnesses caused by unsafe drinking water, lack of sanitation, and poor hygiene are among the leading causes of death for children under five, contributing to nearly 1,000 deaths a day.

To learn more about World Water Day and how you can help, check out UNICEF’s press release on the fundraising campaign. You can donate money online — or, if you visit UNICEF’s website on a smartphone (and then leave your phone alone for five minutes), you’ll unlock a donation from Giorgio Armani Fragrances and S’well that’s equivalent to the cost of water for one day for a child in need.



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