Access to clean, affordable water is something that the developed world often takes for granted. Yet, over half of the world's population is at risk for water shortages, with far-reaching effects. Lack of adequate clean water has serious health implications, including the prevalence of water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A and E, and diarrhea. Globally, diarrhea is the leading cause of illness and death and 88% of those deaths are due to inadequate sanitation and availability of clean water. Water shortages also foment civil unrest and often lead to violence and regional conflicts, as we have seen in Darfur, Somalia, Chad, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, among others. Lack of water perpetuates poverty, increases the risk of political instability, and affects global prosperity.
The depth and pervasiveness of this problem, spread over some 100 countries, constitutes a major global crisis. And as if this problem isn't dire enough already, continued climate change, population growth and increased global economic growth will deepen the crisis. The problem is as complex as it is widespread. Industrial pollution, poor management of rivers and dams, policies for conservation, water distribution and pricing, agricultural practices, and idiosyncrasies of local conditions all make this a complicated problem to address.
We are seeking to identify "water issues" currently affecting people in developing countries where limited funding can be expected to create a maximum benefit for the population affected. We are not interested in "water problems" which require long term, high cost solutions but in problems where a cost efficient solution can be realized quickly with wide ranging impact. Problems which allow for smaller incremental changes or improvements are believed to be more actionable.
This Challenge does include financial awards for the best ideas, but it is my belief that the greatest reward is knowing you could have a major impact on the developing world.
Please get involved with this Challenge, either by submitting your own ideas or forwarding this Challenge to anyone/everyone that may be able to make a difference.