Published: Monday, February 28, 2011
Updated: Monday, February 28, 2011 20:02
In the world today, over 900 million people are living without access to clean water. Mississippi State University's United Nations Children's Fund plans to raise awareness about this problem by hosting Water Week March 20-26.
UNICEF is a humanitarian organization that works to ensure every child has access to clean water, nutrition, immunizations and education. The organization also responds after natural disasters, such as recent devastations in both Haiti and Pakistan.
MSU UNICEF President Bailey Howington said the number of children dying from preventable causes is staggering.
"Twenty-two thousand kids die every single day, and UNICEF thinks that number should be zero," Howington said. "Twenty-two thousand is more than all of the students, faculty and staff at MSU combined. It's astounding that many children get wiped off of the Earth every single day, and no one notices."
Howington said waterborne disease is the second highest cause of childhood death in the world, claiming more than 4,100 children every day.
"We are passionate about access to clean water because it's such a devastating problem that is a major cause of unnecessary deaths, yet it's largely ignored," Howington said.
Howington said she believes raising awareness for this crisis is vital in achieving results because most students do not even think about it.
"Since this tragedy is something that wouldn't cross the average student's mind, the events [during Water Week] are mostly awareness based," Howington said. "We will have posters and blue ribbons on the Drill Field, recycling for water bottles and a concert with Starkville's own The Jarheads, n Friday, March 25."
Anna Morales, a junior majoring in psychology, said she agrees most students are not aware of the large number of people without access to clean water.
"I'm really glad MSU UNICEF is raising awareness about this cause," Morales said. "I know I personally never thought about the water crisis before, but I want to help now that I've learned more about it."
MSU UNICEF is also implementing the Tap Project during Water Week. The Tap Project is a nationwide event in which restaurant patrons donate $1 for a glass of water that is usually received for free.
Lauren Henson, freshman undeclared major, said she is looking forward to contributing to the Tap Project.
"I feel like donating at least one dollar is something everyone can do," Henson said. "I definitely plan to help out with that."
Howington said the Tap Project makes a huge impact on the clean water crisis, because just $1 can provide a child with clean water for 40 days.
"The great thing about our mission is that it's working," Howington said. "UNICEF has already helped 1.6 billion people across the world get clean water. If enough people can band together, we can help the final 900 million and end this crisis."
MSU UNICEF is seeking assistance and more ideas for Water Week. Today, a meeting will be held at 5 p.m. in Allen 12 for students interested in helping this cause. Students can also look for the group on Facebook under MSU UNICEF.