SEATTLE, Washington — Water scarcity currently affects nearly 2.2 billion people. That means almost a third of the world’s population lacks access to safe drinking water and sanitation services. To help combat this issue, many Major League Baseball players are stepping up to the plate and doing what they can to bring awareness to the global water crisis.
About the Global Water Crisis
The disparity between those with access to safe water and those without has far-reaching implications. It affects the quality of a region’s nutrition, healthcare and education. Additionally, consuming water from contaminated sources facilitates the transmission of bacteria and viruses. In some countries, poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water cause more deaths annually than armed conflict. Indeed, universal access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation and hygiene could reduce disease-related mortality by 10% and improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world.
The United Nations’ sixth Sustainable Development Goal is targeted towards ensuring universal access to water and sanitation by 2030. While these are regarded as basic human rights, millions of citizens living in underserved communities still lack access to affordable, safely managed sanitation services.
How MLB Players Are Involved
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Scott Linebrink has recently become involved as an advocate for global water access and equality. During a 2019 trip to Bidibidi, Uganda, a refugee settlement that is home to nearly 230,000 displaced persons, Linebrink and several other retired MLB players witnessed the challenges of living with unsafe and inadequate water supply. The group spent two days meeting residents of the community and listening to their stories. They also learned about initiatives and projects centered around bringing a steady and reliable water supply to the settlement. Following the trip, the retired athletes chose to partner with Water Mission, a ministry organization that provides safe water, sanitation and hygiene solutions to developing countries and disaster areas.
Water Mission has provided more than 5 million people around the world with access to clean water and sanitation. That includes just 700,000 over the course of the last year. Nearly 330,000 of those served were refugees or civilians displaced by violence and political unrest in vulnerable areas. Water Mission is also working on creating a more sustainable approach to its services by partnering with UNICEF to create solar-powered water pumping. In addition to introducing new technologies and equipment to developing countries, they also focus on community-based educational resources to empower and train citizens in operating the systems.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the urgency of achieving universal access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation. This demand is uncovering pre-existing inadequacies in the infrastructure of underdeveloped countries. Many schools, healthcare facilities and households lack the supplies necessary to take part in the routine hygiene practices that many developed regions take for granted. Practicing regular hand-washing and proper waste disposal are two basic steps towards preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, those steps can be impossible when countries don’t have the proper resources. Linebrink and Water Mission are working to install more than 1,200 hand-washing stations across ten countries. Providing access to these resources is a critical first step towards bettering public health and safety in the world’s most vulnerable regions.
– Sylvie Antal