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Walk for Water Honors Those Who Walk Far to Drink

Participants in the US State Department's Walk for Water event in Washington, DC, Apr. 27, 2011

The U.S. State Department says roughly 900 million people in the developing world walk an average of six kilometers to get water for their families. So on Wednesday, the department sponsored a six-kilometer walk to raise awareness about the lengths many people must go simply to get a drink.

The State Department says Walk for Water is a show of solidarity with the millions of women who struggle just to drink. U.S. Undersecretary of State Maria Otero.

"Our work here today and our walk today is really going to be an effort to recognize // the women and girls, the millions and millions and millions around the world, that have to walk what we will walk today on average in order to get water for their families," Otero said.

Doris McBride
Doris McBride

Doris McBride carried water on her head while walking. "I am originally from South Carolina and when I was younger my grandmother used to talk about different family members who could carry things on their head and I thought that was a pretty cool thing to do so I have been practicing and doing it on and off ever since," McBride said.

Marcia Frederick has worked abroad for the State Department. She says she has witnessed the struggle women go through daily to secure safe water, carrying heavy pots with up to 20 liters of water.

It reminded of her of her childhood in Jamaica. "When they had to carry the water on their head with a bowl or a little pail, pretty much we did the same thing. We weren’t able to have these fancy carriers or anything like that to transport water back to our homes, so when I saw that it was like a déjà vu feeling," Frederick said.

Global water experts say water scarcity is one of the greatest challenges of our time, with growing populations, expanding economies and climate change putting water resources under pressure. In 20 years, many say the world’s demand for fresh water could outstrip supply by 40 percent.

"Some 1.5 million children die every year from diarrheal disease, which is water-born. What could be more serious than that?," said State Department Global Water Coordinator Christian Holmes.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton established water as a top foreign policy priority in 2010. The U.S. government believes that investments in water and sanitation translate into greater economic stability.