Worth more than Gold: our favourite photos showing the value of water

19 March 2019

Topics: Ethiopia Tonga Zimbabwe

Water is central to the wellbeing of people and the planet
Ban Ki-moon, former UN General Secretary

Fresh water is the world’s most valuable resource, life’s most essential ingredient. But today, 1 in 9 people lack access to safe water. That’s more than 844 million who cannot drink, cook, or bath with clean, safe water.
We’ve picked some of our favourite photos from around that world that show how water is more valuable than gold. Whether it’s in buckets, pipes, taps, or wells, clean water is an essential human right, and brings good health, sanitation and food in its flow.

Safeguarding Tonga’s water ahead of a storm

In Tonga, violent tropical cyclones can destroy a town’s water supply overnight. When the water stops flowing, it is the elderly and the youngest members of the community who are at the most risk of water-borne diseases and infections.

Our local partner in Tonga is working to install rainwater tanks specially designed to withstand cyclones in vulnerable communities, ensuring that people have access to safe water supplies even when the most violent winds and heavy rains knock down buildings and tear up roads.

Bringing in a crop even when the rains fail

In Zimbabwe, climate change is making life hard for farming families. Ongoing drought means farmers are struggling to put food on the table and send their kids to school. But through an innovate program called Conservation Farming, Zimbabwean farmers are learning new techniques better suited to the changes in climate and low rainfall that the country is now experiencing.

By adapting how they plant, mulch and irrigate, farmers can make their most precious resource – water – stretch further. This is ensuring they can harvest enough food to feed their family even in times of drought.

Securing safety and dignity in Ethiopia’s refugee camps

Even after people escape the danger of war, their life can still remain at risk. In many refugee camps in Ethiopia, where resources are stretched, there are often not enough toilets to meet the need, and supplies of fresh water can quickly become contaminated without proper sewerage. In these conditions, easily preventable diseases like Hepatitis E can spread rapidly, placing children in danger of life-threatening illnesses.

When we visited Akula camp in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, we saw just how important clean water, a simple bar of soap, and toilets were for people who had fled conflict South Sudan. It meant the difference between living with the threat of disease and leading a life with health and dignity.

Help build stronger communities: become a Monthly Giver

By giving a monthly gift, you can help people around the world recover from conflicts and natural disasters that threaten their access to life’s essential ingredient. Your regular contribution will allow our partners to continue providing food, shelter, and health care to people in urgent need. To learn more about how you can make a continuing commitment, click here.