World Citizen Essay Contest Winner: Death by Water in Bangladesh

Pictured: essay contest winners from 3rd-12th grade, keynote speaker Jeff Raikes (former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and founder of the Raikes Foundation), Marla Smith-Nilson (founder and CEO of Water1st International), Jacqueline Miller (President and CEO of the World Affairs Council), and Pat Grant (The World Affairs Council's 2015/2016 World Educator). (Photo courtesy World Affairs Council)
Pictured: essay contest winners from 3rd-12th grade, keynote speaker Jeff Raikes (former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and founder of the Raikes Foundation), Marla Smith-Nilson (founder and CEO of Water1st International), Jacqueline Miller (President and CEO of the World Affairs Council), and Pat Grant (The World Affairs Council’s 2015/2016 World Educator). (Photo courtesy World Affairs Council)

The Prompt: Worldwide water crises are among the most critical  concerns of this century. You have successfully applied for a large grant from the Gates Foundation to address a pressing global water issue. What is the main issue that you will address with the grant and why? 

According to CharityWater.org 663 million people around the world don’t have access to clean water. This is a big problem, fortunately I have been granted a grant and I plan to save many lives with it. I plan to do this in Bangladesh because they need the most help. Imagine if you didn’t have water and had to walk for it, then it would was dirty and you had to drink it. It’s pretty hard to imagine for us but 23 million people in Bangladesh live like this. This is a serious problem.

In Bangladesh people don’t have enough access to clean water and some may not have access to dirty water. 633 million don’t have access to clean water worldwide, which is double the amount of people in the United States! Sanitation is also a big problem in Bangladesh; poor sanitation has led to 700,000 child deaths per year. That is bad. The average American uses 176 gallons per day. Compare that to the 5 gallons used by the African family!

I choose this issue because it’s very important and Bangladesh is in need, it’s the tenth most densely populated country in the world.

Joshana is a woman who lives in a slum in Bangladesh. She does not have clean water and her job is to make shopping bags ($2 per week). With the money she makes from that she buys clean water from her neighbor who will only allow her to come once a week. I think it’d be hard to live this way.

Another reason I choose Bangladesh is because according to water aid.org 23 million people there lack access to clean water. Also 43%dont have access to improved sanitation, that’s almost half of Bangladesh’s population! This dilemma is important many are sick and dying, so this must stop.

I think a solution could be to build a well. This could help in two ways; to get clean water and to not have to buy bottled water that would just escalate the problem by polluting more of their water. I think wells would work because they are usually affective.

But back in the 1970s they drilled about 4 million wells to replace traditional polluted sources. Then in 1993 high arsenic condensations were discovered in many off the wells in Bangladesh. They painted the contaminated wells red but they started to fade. This affected skin, health, and also internal cancer was connected to arsenic in drinking water. This is a failed attempt to help stop the water crisis.

So when I try to help I will check on the well every 6 months to see if it is still working effectively. I will also teach the residents who are near the well how to fix it if it if I’m not there, because you can’t guarantee that a well won’t break. And if it did break then they’d go back to having dirty, contaminated and polluted water. Can you think of any other good solutions?

In conclusion the water crisis is a serious problem that must be stopped and because I got a grant I will go to Bangladesh to build wells. I will try to help people like Joshana who don’t have enough clean water.

With more than 1,100 people per square kilometer and 23 million people in total who don’t have access to clean water throughout Bangladesh, I know they are going to need more help than I can give. So I hope you will help to, and remember every little thing counts!

World Citizen Essay Contest

This piece was a winner in the World Affairs Council’s World Citizen Essay Contest, whose goal is to promote discussion among students, teachers, families, and community members about the ways that individuals can effect positive change in the global community. This year, the prompt asked students to think critically and be engaged as global citizens by addressing one of the most critical issues of our time: The worldwide water crisis.

The Council received more than 350 essay submissions, from students in 54 different schools across 26 Washington school districts. On May 5th, we celebrated the 15 student winners at a public awards ceremony which featured former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-founder of the Raikes Foundation, Jeff Raikes, and founder and CEO of Water1st International, Marla Smith-Nilson.

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