The United Nations considers access to clean water to be a basic human right. But, per the World Health Organization, some 663 million people (10 percent of the world’s population) around the globe cannot enjoy regular access to this most fundamental of resources.
It is an issue that blights communities in countries all over the world, including Ethiopia and Rwanda, where diseases caused by drinking unclean water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war – with 43% of those deaths including children under five years of age.
But access to clean water is also an issue elsewhere in the world. Indeed, international charity Water Aid claims some 76 million Indians must either buy water at exorbitant rates or use supplies that are contaminate with harmful sewage or chemical waste.
Lack of clean water does not just affect basic quality of life, it also exacerbates an ongoing cycle of hardship, especially for children. Polluted water makes children sick, their education suffers and economic opportunities are lost. In many communities, parents are simply too busy to go out in search of clean water. It thus often falls to children to travel far and wide to collect clean water for their families. The physical burden on young bodies can be immense – and often overwhelming.
That is why Samsung C&T joined forces with Plan Korea, the Korean office of Plan International, an independent international development and humanitarian aid organization, and the Community Chest of Korea, to erect much-needed water towers in at schools in parts of Delhi where clean water is notoriously hard to come by. The project has been two and a half years in development, and has proceeded on a school-by-school basis.
Members of Samsung C&T Corporation India Private Ltd, Samsung C&T’s Indian subsidiary based in New Delhi, recently participated in an inauguration ceremony held by the company on April 13 for a water tower at the city’s SDMC Girls Primary School, the 15th such school to receive a water tower.
These towers are an extension of the work Samsung C&T’s global volunteers have been carrying out in Indian schools since 2011. This has involved the construction and renovation of school playgrounds, libraries and other facilities.
Throughout the subcontinent, global companies have been lending a hand where they can in the effort to provide clean water. In the course of their efforts, they are now teaming up with local NGOs, experts and community leaders to create lasting solutions to India’s water problems.
These solutions include everything from wells to piping – and even some very advanced rainwater harvesting systems.
Innovators say that sustainability must be the name of the game when creating clean water solutions in India.
Some Indian scientists are therefore looking at using household plant biomass bioslow sand filters as a potential solution. These innovations use columns of sand covered with a biofilm or adherent cells to remove bacteria, viruses and harmful metals from contaminated water.
Others, like Samsung C&T, are ensuring that their water tower projects use renewable solar thermal energy (STE) technology to provide sustainable and reliable water flow in schools. Now, even in the event of a mains power outage, the 14,000 students from the 15 schools equipped with Samsung C&T towers will enjoy access to clean water throughout the day.
In addition to providing clean water solutions, Samsung C&T volunteers have helped provide onsite hygiene training sessions, aimed at helping young learners understand the importance of sanitation.
Their efforts mean that the time children once spent collecting water from far-away sources can now instead be spent in class or doing homework. Less absences due to contaminated water-related sickness will also help improve academic performance. And that will ultimately lead to opportunities beyond the classroom.
Scientists around the world are working tirelessly to find solutions to the world’s ever-increasing water needs. In the United States, scientists are working on technology that may one day be able to extract clean water from the desert air, while a joint Israeli-American team claims to have successfully developed membranes that can remove viruses and produce safe drinking water.
But technology like this is still a long way from becoming mainstream. For solutions that can be implemented right away, big businesses around the world need to step up to the plate and create real-life clean water access that young people everywhere – in Delhi and beyond – can start using right away.