THE BLOG

Are You Made Of The Stuff That Makes History?

13/12/2016 17:26 GMT | Updated 14/12/2017 10:12 GMT

As we reach the end of 2016 and reflect on the year gone by, it's impossible to ignore the unsettling things that have happened across the globe. The continuing refugee crisis, a new disease outbreak, political upheaval, terrorism and economic uncertainty have left many of us feeling more insecure, and disillusioned than we were 12 months ago.

Looking around the world, as well as closer to home, there is a strong sense that division in many communities is growing. However, I believe, and have always believed, that there are more things that bind us than divide us; that our basic common human concerns are the same the world over.

We all want a safe place to call home. We all want the best for our families. And, we are all made of the same stuff - we are all made of around 60% water.

This winter, WaterAid is reminding us of the power of this natural resource, which unites us biologically and physically. Clean water is a basic human need that transcends the countries, cultures and the kilometres between us.

Just to survive, we need around 2.4 litres of water every day. Yet, while there is enough water in the world to meet everyone's basic needs, 663million people across the world struggle to even access enough clean water to drink.

As a father of three, I cannot imagine how it must feel to give your children water so dirty it can make them sick, or even kill them. And I dread to think what it must be like to know the only place your daughter can go to the loo is a hidden place outside where she is vulnerable to harassment or even attack.

We are in the midst of a terrible refugee crisis. The biggest the world has seen since the Second World War. I have visited a number of refugee camps over the last few years both with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and other refugee charities; I've met people suffering in the this current crisis, and it's clear that access to clean water and sanitation is critical. I've seen first-hand how important it is to get these life-saving basics to people who have been forced to flee their homes, leaving everything behind. Longer term, they are vital for building a successful and sustainable future.

While sometimes it can feel like the global news is unremittingly gloomy, hidden behind the headlines is the immense progress we are making across the world when it comes to helping people out of extreme poverty.

The good news is, for the first time in history, access to clean water for everyone everywhere is within reach.

Nine out of ten people now have access to safe, clean water to drink, cook, and clean with. Every year, 78 million people are turning on a tap or using a pump for the first time - this is exciting progress. If we can reach just 8% more people a year, together we can ensure clean water for everyone everywhere by 2030. What a historic moment that would be!

Meanwhile, more than six in ten of the world's population now has access to good sanitation. Every year, 69 million people are closing a toilet door behind them for the first time. Ending the sanitation crisis is a big challenge, with 2.4billion people - around a third of the world's population - still having nowhere safe to go to the toilet. So much great progress has been made but there is still such a long way to go.

The United Nations Global Goals agreed last year were a great step in helping end extreme poverty, and with Goal 6 dedicated to clean water and sanitation, it means world leaders acknowledged the critical role taps and toilets play in eradicating poverty - for the first time ever.

In a world where sometimes this year it has been hard to see how to make a difference, helping to get water and sanitation to everyone everywhere by 2030 is a real, tangible way to transform someone's life for ever. Just £15 can help one person gain access to clean, safe water. And with each person who receives clean water and a safe toilet we are one step closer to that historic day when no one has to give their child dirty water or find a piece of waste ground to use as a toilet.

So, as Christmas nears, let's end the year and begin 2017, celebrating the progress we have made and uniting in our commonality. Together, we're made of the stuff that makes history.

For more information on WaterAid's 'Made of the Same Stuff' campaign, visit wateraid.org/uk/made-of