Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Mom Bloggers on Seeing the Global Water Crisis Up Front

March 31, 2013

When I first traveled to Africa two years ago I understood the acute nature of the water crisis immediately. Talking to young girls who had to gather water two times a day walking miles in the Kenyan countryside left an indelible impression on me. And seeing women and girls and also boys and men standing on the back of donkey carts in Ethiopia with twenty or so Jerry cans in tow showed me that access to water is indeed a global crisis. We hear this time and time again, but unless we see it with our own eyes we don’t feel the real impact of the developing world’s scarce relationship with and access to safe, clean water.

On World Water Day members of the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of Social Good Moms who speak out about women and child health, world hunger, and maternal health, shared their thoughts about water and how important it is to the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world.

Collaborating with WaterAid America we collectively spread water and sanitation facts as well as simple steps that can be taken to help provide safe drinking water to people in need. According to WaterAid, over 783 million people lack access to safe drinking water. On top of those numbers, 2.5 million people do not have access to proper sanitation. More dishearteningly 2,000 children die each day from diarrhea that results from the intake of unsafe water.

What is important to note is that each of those numbers represents a person, not a cloudy figure drawn from thin air. The numbers are so big, however,  it is difficult to fathom their enormity and the impact of water scarcity on the world, but as aforementioned, when you see the crisis with your own eyes, it suddenly becomes real.  

These four moms have seen the global water crisis up front and are speaking out about the importance of working on a world scale to provide more access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation. 

Tawanna Brown Smith of Mom’s Guide to Travel visits countries around the world and has realized that there really is no good reason for people to have to die from waterborne diseases and to have a lack of access to safe water.  She also clearly understands that impact of water scarcity on travelers.


Nicole Melancon of Third Eye Mom, also a global traveler, has seen first-hand how a lack of water access affects families and entire communities. After a visit to Nepal she wrote, “Running water was unheard of let alone a proper toilet.” "Access to safe water," she said " is a luxury that many dream of".


Elizabeth Atalay of documama drew upon her experiences traveling to developing countries to relay the importance of the global water crisis.

“Many years ago traveling in Africa I took this photo of young girls carrying these huge jugs of water through their village to their homes,” Atalay wrote.  “This is a snapshot of a scene that I saw played out time and again in my travels through the continent. Lines at village hand pumps, and heavy Jerry cans balanced on heads, hours fetching water that could otherwise have been spent by these young girls in school, or by the women earning a living.   By being there, at times the amount of effort put into accessing the most basic of human necessities, and the conservation required once obtained, became my own reality as well.”


Harriet Shugarman, the founder  and executive director of ClimateMama, works on and advocates for climate, environment, and water concerns every day.

“Fresh water accounts for less than 3% of all the water on the globe and access to clean, uncontaminated drinking water is unavailable to almost 1/6th of the world’s population, Shugarman said”. “Millions of women are unable to work and millions of children are unable to go to school, because they spend so much time collecting water.”

“As we live climate change access to clean, potable water will become the greatest challenge confronting the human race,” Shurgarman said. 


Over 35 mom bloggers shared news and information about the global water crisis. Read their work and watch their videos at

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