Sunday, November 02, 2008


As many of you know I'm a swimmer, water polo player, wakeboarder, former lifeguard and swim instructor and a recently employed woman at a sustainability consulting firm. Needless to say, water is a passion of mine. My last name, Forstrom, in Swedish actually means "forceful stream." I even have an orca (my favorite animal) tattooed on my left foot. It symbolizes many different aspects of who I am, but it serves a reminder to always be graceful, strong, and slightly feminine.

With my new job, I've taken upon myself to educate myself as much as possible on sustainability issues. I recently started reading the e-version of a book called What Matters, which uses photo journalism to bring to light issues facing our world. I would strongly recommend you all check it out. I thought I would highlight some interesing facts I've found out thus far reading this book:
  • More than half the population of our modern "civilized" world still suffers from water services inferior to those of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
  • According to the World Health Organization, there are over 250 millions cases of water-related diseases annually, EXCLUDING common diarrheal diseases.
  • In 2000, the UN estimated there were more than 4 BILLION cases of diarrhea annually and more than 2 million deaths a year.
  • In the What Matters book, there is an image of a little girl carrying a jug of water on her head with this caption: The girl is indeed "little" - she is four years old, and she is begining what may be an entire childhood devoted to hauling water. She is not going to school. She won't learn how to be a leader in her community. She will be deprived of some of the most basic benefits of society - all because there is no local source of clean, reliable and safe water."
  • Water is heavy - 8lbs per gallon. If you do the math, you need roughly 100 pounds of water per day per person. 5 gallons (40 lbs) disapears down the drain when you take a shower for 2 minutes (only if you are using an efficient showerhead).
  • Among all of China's 660-odd cities, only one small city of 200,000 people, Lianyuan in Hunan Province, can claim to provide clean drinking water straight from the tap. My dad lives in Shanghai, the largest city in China (population 20 million) and has to drink bottled water everyday.
  • The Yellow River, one of the world's longest, supplies water to more than 150 million people and 15% of China's agricultural land. Yet 2/3 of its water is considered unsafe to drink, and 10% is classified as sewage.
  • Nearly 700 million people in China drink water contaminated with animal and human waste.
  • 2/3 of China's rural population lacks access to piped water - a development failure that has become one of the leading causes of death among children under the age of 5.
While I am thankful and blessed to live in a place where I can get clean water whenever I want it. I can even brag that both my refrigerator and kitchen sink water is filtered even more. I think that it is absolutely RIDICULOUS and INSANE that people around the world do not even get the choice or the luxury of clean water in their neighborhood, town or city. I intent on being part of the solution. And I hope you join me. This Christmas season - I'm going to be donating money that would otherwise go towards presents to charities that help support clean water initiatives throughout the world.

Won't you join me? Even better - know a charity, NGO, etc. that already does this? Let me know. I'm going to create a blog roll list of them and keep them up for the remainder of the year. Thanks!


Greg said...

I couldn't agree with you more about these horrible tragedy with water population. My good friend lived in Iran for a few month and had to buy water purifiers just to clean the water! There should be no excuses these days to provide something like water to people around the world.

Another good point about water is people who don't conserve it. A lot of people still have those 10 years old washer and dryers that also use a lot of water per year. Even though its expensive to upgrade to the new versions of them - they save a crap load water.


Jenna said...

Good point Greg! I'll have to do more research on that. I know that when we moved into our new house a couple of years ago. My parents invested in more energy efficient washer. It only uses 6 gallons of water a load!

Jenna said...

I found a cool list of 49 ways to save water - check it out here:

Maybe I'll post it tomorrow on my blog.

Melinda said...

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has several clean water projects.
USAID does as well. My brother worked in Bangladesh with USAID ridding arsenic from water.
The Carter Center has projects to eradicate Guinea Worm and River Blindness (both are water born diseases).
Way to go, Jenna!

Jenna said...

Thanks for the suggestions Melinda. Can you donate to any of those programs though?

Air-iq said...

yeah H20
great post!

jeff said...

Sunday they showed the Advent Conspiracy video at church. I think we were all impressed that we need to give more relationally and consume less. However, the real message of that video was a call to solve the world's water problem. Here's a link to the video in case anyone is interested:

Go to Advent Conspiracy site to find out how to give to them

Jenna said...

Hi Jeff! I've already posted that video on my blog. I was actually really excited to see the advent conspiracy video at church on Sunday but was disappointed they didn't show the real one - just the church out reach one. Thanks for sharing it though - hope you choose to get involved!