Blog Action Day: Water

Click to enlarge: Kalmunai Tap Water

Update: Just for clarification: this photo was not distorted for any effect, only tonal corrections where applied to the raw file. The man in the image is roughly 60 years old, a now retired municipal worker, extremely skinny and in a bad health state.

I am just coming from the shower, having had my share of the 200+ l/head the typical European consumes per day. I grew up and live in a region of our world, where clean drinking water neither was nor is a scarce ressource – it’s a commodity, available in apparent abundance, for a reasonable price (the bigger part of the price comes from the sewage treatment anyhow).

But I have seen regions of our world where this is not the case. Regions, where children or elderly people die because of the lack of clean drinking water. Regions where you call yourself lucky if there is a single water outlet on your premises which, and this borders on sheer luxury, provides clean water at least for the greater part of the day. This old man in Kalmunai, Sri Lanka, now is in this lucky situation, and he is grateful for it. A much too big number of people is not.

So if you get the opportunity, support the cause of clean drinking water wherever possible. It starts with asking smart questions, at home, and might end with support for one of the many NGOs that are active on this field. I myself will continue my support for and cooperation with a German NGO, EMAS, and set up and monitor a project providing drinking water especially for victims of the civil war in Sri Lanka.


  1. Markus,
    Great photo (is he as tall in person as he appears in the photo?) and great message. I’ve also been planning a post on water issues. I’ll give you the scoop on an amazing invention. You will love this link:
    If what he says is true, he has made a significant contribution to rethinking and solving the world’s water problem. Now if he can just bring the cost down a bit….What do you think?


    1. Martha, that person in the photo is really as thin as it looks – no photoshop involved. He’s an old, sick man who had lost his belongings in the tsunami. Within our project he got a new water tap. The water quality is fine, however there are still shortages due to the fast growing population.
      I viewed at the TED presentation. This units looks very capable especially for emergency situations, and after some additional engineering for larger scale usage. However it of course cannot solve the problem of climate change induced prolonged drought periods, and this problem will become more and more important especially in many asian and african regions.

      1. You are right. There are no simple answers to this problem. In addition to natural shortages, in some parts of the western world, we are ruining water with hormones and prescription drugs that are excreted into the water system, as well as adding chlorine and fluoride. If that were not bad enough, there is serious concern that the practices of oil and gas companies drilling deeply and fracturing rocks with high pressure and toxic materials such as benzene is turning ground water toxic. We need to get our act together and do the right thing now and for future generations.

        I’m glad you could help make his life a little (or hugely) better.

        1. Martha, looking at the situation of the water on our planet, there is reason enough to get depressive. Because of professional needs I do read a lot about it and the positive signals are small and rare. The only way to avoid disaster is probably communicating, convincing and leading by example – not an easy task, especially when clinging to our wealthy lifestyle. But we can – improve.

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