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A Birthday Wish Can Change Everything for People Without Clean Water to Drink

March 21, 2012
at 9:00 pm PST

“Roughly one-sixth of the world’s population, or 1.1 billion people, don’t have access to safe drinking water.”

“Eighty percent of diseases in the developing world are caused by contaminated water.”

“People in the developing world walk an average of 3.7 miles (6 km) a day to collect water for basic needs.”

These are just a few of the shocking statistics I discovered in the past week on Twitter, leading up to World Water Day--today, March 22.

But, I also discovered that by making a birthday wish, I could personally help solve this massive problem.

From my home in California, it’s hard to imagine not being able to simply turn a faucet to get the water I need to drink, wash my clothes, or cook. And sure, I take my dogs for a long, leisurely walk every day, but am I physically capable of trekking three hours to and from a swamp, carrying a 40-pound jug of contaminated water for half the distance? No way.

Luckily, a number of ambitious, committed organizations are working to educate people like me about the shortage of potable water in developing countries. And, these same organizations work on the ground in some of the world’s most inhospitable areas to deliver safe drinking water and sanitation to millions of people who lack it.

One of the most prolific organizations working to solve the global water crisis is charity: water. Founded in 2006, charity: water uses a savvy social networking strategy and engaging videos to generate donations, which are used to build wells in rural communities in developing countries. (Read this blog post by Charlie Treadwell for more details on charity: water’s effective social networking campaigns).

With its birthday campaign, charity: water gives people like me a simple and personal way to contribute to solving the global water crisis:

One issue on which Cisco focuses its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts is critical human needs, and that includes water. Cisco and the Cisco Foundation match employee gifts to and/or provide cash and product grants to the following charities to help them bring more clean water to more people who lack it:

After I watched the video posted above, I visited the charity: water website and pledged to “give up” my birthday this year. I don’t need gifts, but millions of people need the seemingly simplest of things: a glass of clean water.

Cisco is committed to supporting organizations run by people who know that know access to clean water can prevent disease, increase economic opportunity, and reduce poverty in developing countries, and now so am I.

On World Water Day, I invite you to join us. Please consider giving up your birthday for charity: water, or making a donation to another organization listed above.

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8 Comments.


  1. Hm i dont think so. we should spent and not like social medias! The old fashioned way

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  2. Those are some shocking statistics. Ever since I was a kid my parents encouraged doing some form of active charity work (visiting shelters and physically donating / volunteer work of sorts) for one special day a year. Birthday / Christmas, just something.

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    • Alexis Raymond

      That is great Samuel — Cisco employees are encouraged to volunteer often, too, and many of us do!

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  3. 1.1 billion people is a truly shocking statistic. It’s so sad when you think of all the water that we waste everyday. It really puts things into perspective.

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    • Alexis Raymond

      Thanks for the comment Jason. Agreed, it is shocking, and water is something many of us take for granted.

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  4. Here in Brazil we have many people who are unaware of the lack of water for many. We promote all possible means in this problem. Great article!

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  5. seriously, i’d rather have power interruptions than not having water at all. I remember we had this terrible water shortage last year. It lasted for almost one month. According to the officials involved, they were repairing the water systems and may time some time testing the water for cleanliness and readiness for safety usage. It was ridiculously terrible having a very limited supply of clean water, like you would really understand the importance of saving water for future uses..

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