The impacts of climate change are most visible in the dramatic changes occurring to the planet’s freshwater resources. Reduced water availability will be one of the key impacts of climate change for many world regions and people. – World Wildlife Fund
The global challenge is how to meet the water demands of an estimated 8 billion people by 2025 while protecting the ecosystems that support life on the planet. We must share water—with nature and with each other. – National Geographic Society Freshwater Initiative
Freshwater is drinkable water. Unlike ocean water, freshwater has a very low concentration of dissolved salts. It is found in rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, groundwater, springs, floodplains, and wetlands. It is crucial for life. Did you know, however, that only 3 percent of the earth’s water is fresh, and two-thirds of that is inaccessible to humans, frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps?
It is easy for many people, especially those of us in the United States, to take freshwater for granted; obtaining a glass of water may be as simple as turning on a faucet in your home, making the flow of water appear limitless. For many people around the globe, however, including in Burkina Faso, freshwater is difficult to come by; it is an invaluable, prized, and expensive commodity.
In Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, for example, the city often suffers water shortages, especially during the driest months of May, June, and July. Only about a quarter of city residents have access to private taps, and most residents must obtain water from vendors at very high prices. In addition, most households rely on pit latrines for toilet facilities, and are responsible for their own waste-water management, leading to poor sanitary conditions throughout the city.
In rural areas and in outlying areas of large cities like Ouagadougou, access to clean drinking water and hygiene and sanitary facilities is even more severely limited, contributing to a high incidence of waterborne diseases and a high child mortality rate. Lack of access to freshwater has also at times incited local conflict over how to best manage available water sources, and could in the future lead to population redistribution, political instability, and more pronounced regional conflict.
VIDEO: Women Lead the Way. Details a self-help sanitation project supported by political and traditional leaders in Burkina Faso.