Water is Life - from the Global Water Challenge Blog

Mar 24, 2014 1:00 PM ET

Water is Life

By Alexandra Cousteau, Founder and President, Blue Legacy International and Monica Ellis, CEO, Global Water Challenge

Since I was a child, my grandfather Jacques Cousteau taught me that for life to thrive, there must be clean, abundant water. Water supports all ecosystems, economies, and communities, from local watersheds to the seas. The quality of our water defines the quality of our lives.

But how often do we really think about that? In the western world, not much. We turn on the tap and out flows water. In other parts of the world, however, hundreds of millions of people must go to great lengths to obtain just a day’s supply of water. Without it, people struggle to do things we don’t think twice about: grow a community, start a business, even maintain proper hygiene. In Africa and other impoverished countries, water even keeps children from going to school.

It shouldn’t have to be this way. Not now, not ever.

Access to clean drinking water is a human right, recognized by the United Nations. But it doesn’t take an international charter to recognize a basic fact of life: without water, there is only suffering. This is especially true for women and girls in the developing world since the water crisis is directly tied to their destinies. Without access to basic necessities like water and a clean bathroom at school, many young girls drop out, and will never get the education they need to break the cycle of poverty and contribute to the economic development in their home countries.

Across the world, companies, governments and civil society are coming together to protect water.  The Coca-Cola Company and its partners are providing clean water access to over 2MM people in Africa alone through a program called the Replenish African Initiative or RAIN.  From rebuilding water infrastructure in Kinshasa to empowering women entrepreneurs to run water kiosks in Ghana, these public-private partnerships make clean water a daily reality for those who could only dream of it before.

In Ghana, RAIN support has brought a woman named Cornelia and her four children a safe drinking water supply instead of the nearby dirty river.  It has also brought her precious time since she no longer has to spend hours gathering water. Just like Somaliland’s Fadumo, who would spend almost an entire day collecting water with her daughters.  Today, she earns a living selling water at a kiosk built through a RAIN project in her country.  “Now, thanks to RAIN, that is all behind us. Alhamdulilah (Thank God),” Fadumo told us.

Coca-Cola isn’t alone in making a difference.  They share this critical work with other forward-thinking organizations in the public and private sector, across diverse geographic and political boundaries, who’ve demonstrated a sincere commitment to promoting access to clean, abundant water.

In honor of World Water Day, let us each take time to appreciate every cool, clean sip of water we enjoy, and work together to ensure that everyone has the access to this basic necessity – clean water.

About the Authors

Alexandra Cousteau is Founder and President of Blue Legacy International, a non-profit organization that infuses science, technology, and exploration into compelling stories to build public awareness of the interconnectivity between local watersheds and global water resources, and to inspire more sustainable actions. Alexandra Cousteau is dedicated to advocating the importance of water conservation and sustainable management to preserve a healthy planet for future generations. A World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, National Geographic “Emerging Explorer,” filmmaker, and globally recognized advocate on water issues, Alexandra continues the legendary work of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau and her father Philippe Cousteau, Sr.

Monica Ellis is the CEO of Global Water Challenge (GWC), an action-oriented coalition of leading corporations, NGOs and other organizations committed to achieving universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation (WASH).  GWC’s mission is to accelerate the delivery of safe water and sanitation throughout the world.  GWC has sponsored path-breaking WASH projects in Africa, Central and Latin America and India.  Active in the sustainability arena for over 20 years, Ms. Ellis has worked throughout the world on global natural resource issues. Her passion is helping communities in the developing world gain clean water, sanitation and ultimately, economic opportunity.