The old joke about the plumber's crack has gone dry. Especially on World Water Day.
But it's no joke: water and plumbing changes lives.
Here is a cool infographic I received from Able Skills, the UK-based construction training program on Why Plumbers Are Heroes (you can see an interactive version here):
As you can see from the infographic, clean water alone can reduce water-related deaths by 21 percent, improved sanitation alone can reduce such deaths by 37.5 percent, and simple hand-washing can reduce such deaths by 35 percent.
Today, according to UN-Water, "over 780 million people do not have access to improved sources of drinking water and 2.5 billion people are without improved sanitation."
2.5 billion. And we're well into the 21st Century, people.
Population growth, especially in cities, is driving increased water demand. Yet, even more startling is the fact that water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.
With the world population set to grow to 8 billion by 2025, water withdrawals are likely to increase by 50 percent in developing countries and by as much as 18 percent in already developed countries.
Not all of the water use is from the growth of our cities. In fact, only 8 percent of freshwater is tapped for domestic use. 70 percent of freshwater is used for irrigation and 25 percent goes to industrial uses.
Water for irrigation and food production constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources, according to UN-Water.
The World Bank estimates economic losses from lack of sanitation cost up to 7 percent of GDP in some countries.
So, on this World Water Day, tell your plumber how much you appreciate how they've made your water safe to use and readily available. And think about how you can get involved in addressing the issue of access to clean water and sanitation.