SEATTLE, Washington — Access to clean water is one of the most pressing issues in the world today. For perspective, approximately 785 million members of the global population currently lack access to safe drinking water. Approximately one million deaths each year arise from complications due to a lack of clean water. Additionally, one in three people lack access to proper bathroom facilities, and millions of man-hours are exhausted on water collection annually. This mostly affects women and children, taking time away from education and work opportunities. The charity NFL Waterboys is currently working to make a difference and expand access to clean water.
Access to Clean Water: What to Know
Access to clean water is a human rights issue. In 2010, the U.N. General Assembly declared having access to sanitary water a basic human right. The international body decided, more specifically, that the cost of water must remain affordable for each household and should not exceed 3% of a given household’s budget. Furthermore, individuals should not have to travel more than 1,000 meters from their homes to access clean water. However, for many, it takes hours to gather water. Girls often do not attend school because the burden of time and energy gathering water for the survival of their families takes precedence.
Worldwide, two out of every five people do not have proper facilities to accommodate proper handwashing and wastewater disposal. Additionally, one in three people do not have access to a toilet. This results in the flow back of 80% of untreated wastewater into the ecosystem. More than one billion people end up drinking contaminated water as a result. In addition, more than 295,000 children each year under the age of five die due to diseases caused by ingesting contaminated water.
NFL star Chris Long started a charity to help get clean water to children in developing countries. Long took a trip to Tanzania and became aware of the issue of clean water. He wanted to help and, upon his return, rallied other NFL stars to help tackle the problem. Long started a charity in 2015 called the NFL Waterboys. Along with other NFL players, he commissioned fans to help raise awareness and funds to assist the children lacking access to clean water. NFL Waterboys began raising funds to build 32 solar-powered deep borehole wells in East African countries. Each well would represent one of the 32 NFL teams.
The work of the NFL Waterboys has so far impacted 395,000 people through providing access to clean water, preventing disease and helping individuals lead more productive lives. The charity’s goal is to get one million people to access drinking water.
The World Health Organization projects that by 2025 half of the world population will be impacted by clean water deficits. The NFL Waterboys’ approach is to fund sustainable solutions. It aims not only to provide clean water to some of the most in-need communities but also to restore joy and hope to the people who call Africa home.
– Carolyn Lyrenmann