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Four TED talks to watch this World Water Day

Today is World Water Day, a celebration of the importance of water of people and planet. Every living being on the Earth needs water to survive and thrive, and yet shockingly over 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water. Millions of people suffer and die from diseases that result from water scarcity, poor water quality and a lack of adequate sanitation facilities. We’ve also seen how lack of safe water negatively impacts on food security, educational opportunities and livelihoods on our programmes.

VSO worked with WaterAid and Engineers Without Borders to help people like Jospeh Yokie access clean drinking water after the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 aims to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030, and includes targets on the protection of water-related ecosystems and development of water-related infrastructure in low-income countries. This should also reduce the distance marginalised women and girls have to travel to collect water, which can make them vulnerable to abuse and attack and also limits the time they can spend on more meaningful tasks. You can read more about Goal 6 targets here.

Most of us take clean water and proper sanitation completely for granted but this isn’t the case for lots of people.  These four interesting TED talks emphasise why we need to take action now.

Michael Pritchard – How to make filthy water drinkable

Engineer Michael Pritchard was angry about the numbers of deaths resulting from lack of clean water after the Asian tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina the following year. He invented the portable Life-Saver Bottles, which stop viruses as small as 15nm getting through. His demo shows that these bottles really do work – prepare to be amazed!

Rose George – Let’s talk crap. Seriously.

Really insightful talk from Rose George filled with toilet puns and startling facts about how poor sanitation is costing lives. Rose focuses in particular on diarrhoea, usually subject to jokes in modern culture but sadly the second biggest killer of children in the world right now.

Lana Mazahreh – 3 thoughtful ways to conserve water

In this really practical talk, Lana Mazahreh shares lessons learned from water-poor countries like Jordan and Australia on how to save water and address what’s quickly becoming a global crisis. She also draws attention to Marina Barrage, the first urban reservoir built in Singapore which has boosted the country’s water supply by 10%.

Francis de los Reyes – Sanitation is a basic human right

Francis de los Reyes underlines “the culture of crap” and how inadequate sanitation is responsible for 4,100 preventable deaths every day. He also urges governments to support sanitation services in the same way they fund other infrastructure like roads and bridges.

Providing clean water supplies and proper sanitation facilities is a key component of many VSO health programmes. Read more about the introduction and renovation of water wells in Sierra Leone here.

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