Water Matters

photo Washing under a water pipe in the Kroo Bay informal settlement in Freetown, Sierra Leone  [Aubrey Wade/Panos Pictures]

Water, the source and sustainer of life, the basis of civilization . . . what makes our planet unique in the known universe. Over the past few decades, global water consumption has increased to the point where we are now using up our freshwater supplies faster than they are being replenished. Climate change is exacerbating the global water crisis, changing rainfall patterns, intensifying droughts, melting glaciers, putting the most vulnerable members of society at even greater risk.

These challenges confront a world where, despite our advanced technological development, huge numbers of people lack basic access to safe drinking water and sanitation. This is literally a matter of life and death for more than 1 billion people on our planet.

Water and sanitation are at the crux of global development challenges and represent, in the end, a challenge to our collective humanity. In this issue of the SGI Quarterly we aim to show that, dire as they are, these problems are not beyond our ability to solve, and that each steady, creative step toward their solution is an act of transformation, restoring the dignity of life.