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Tell Me Something Good

Let's just take a brief moment to acknowledge, amidst the Relentless March of Daily Horrors, something good we human beings have managed to accomplish.

At the Dawn of Man, almost by definition all human communities must have been located near fresh drinking water. You remember that scene with the proto-humans gathered around the pool of water knocking the crap out of each other with animal bones, right? Well, in the intervening eons many of those communities have been driven further and further away from clean water. Politics, geography, climate change, and other factors have joined forces to make daily life a miserable pain in the ass for a goodly proportion of the world's human population (mostly women, of course) by putting greater and greater distances between, for example, dirty cooking pots and the water needed to wash them. In some developing countries, treks of 6 to 10 miles each way in order to find fresh water are not uncommon.

In the December 30, 2004 edition of Christian Science Monitor, there is an article called "Finally, the world's drinking glass is more than half full" wherein we learn that:

Across the developing world, some 700 million people have gained a household connection to drinking water since 1990 - and helped the world reach a crucial tipping point. Now for the first time, more than half the globe's people have drinking water piped into their homes, according to an August report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

And it turns out that the greatest benefit of this convenience, in the opinion of those who have gained these new household connections to the water-supply, is something that most of us in the First World generally have plenty of, at least on weekends. It is, in fact: Time.

"When we ask women how water projects have changed their lives, their first answer is always, 'We have more time with our kids,' " says Marla Smith-Nilson, cofounder of WaterPartners International, which has projects in Central America, Africa, and Asia. "We're focused on sanitation and health, but we're always hearing stories of how lifestyle has improved."

...[W]here even the most rudimentary of water projects have come on line, rural women are finding themselves blessed with time they need to become not only better mothers and homemakers but also economic contributors.

For instance, Tanzanians are building new schools in just five months in watered districts, where women have time to swing hammers. Equivalent projects drag on for eight months or more in areas where women spend their days fetching water, according to the Tanzanian Embassy in the United States. What's more, children who don't need to haul water are more apt to go to school and break a cycle of poverty, says Ms. Smith-Nilson.

Okay, there remains a lot of work to do. But still, think about it for a minute. Yes, it's true that just under half of the world's human population still does not have a household connection to fresh drinking water. That's on the one hand. On the other, out of all the billions of people on this planet, just over half do.

Give yourself a break. Let yourself think about it in terms of the global glass being half full. It's not going to kill you to feel a little bit good for a while.


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