Rutgers student groups address global water crisis with 2-mile walk
From showering to washing hands, many students may take their easy access to water on campus for granted.
In other parts of the world, people have to walk miles for water.
Rutgers Unicef hoped to draw awareness to the global water crisis Saturday morning with a two-mile walk from the Douglass Student Center to the College Avenue Student Center.
“We wanted to look at the global water crisis that is happening, especially with children around the world,” said Kathryn Lobo, president of Rutgers Unicef. “Children and women in many different locations have to travel great distances to get water from wells in their villages.”
The 50 walkers handed out water bottles to passersby and distributed facts about the global water crisis, such as that there are 663 million people in the world who lack access to clean water.
The walk featured four checkpoints where a Unicef e-board member would stop to tell the true story of two African girls who were sexually assaulted during their daily 3.7-mile trek to get water.
“Sometimes when we talk about global issues, it’s really easy for students to not know how severe it is,” said Lobo, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “Obviously, we don’t travel for water and we don’t have to think about it. Water is so accessible for us and when we want to drink water, we grab a water bottle.”
When a child lacks access to clean water, Lobo said it can trickle down and affect other aspects of a person’s life.
“Not having access to daily water is a challenge,” she said. “Instead of focusing on things such as their education and their health, they’re focusing on ways to get water and ways to make sure their community and families can survive.”
And the global water crisis is closer to home than many think.
On Jan. 17, President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan in response to the high levels of lead in the city’s water.
“We spoke about (the Flint crisis) in the beginning and end of the walk,” Lobo said. “Water in general is not only a global crisis, but something that happens here.”
Admission to the walk was $5, and the proceeds will be going to Unicef’s “Tap Water Project,” a nationwide campaign that provides clean water to children around the world.
As college students, Lobo believes the Rutgers community should take action to end the global water crisis.
“Change can only start from getting involved and taking action,” Lobo said. “By getting college students involved and educated about this subject, we can make change. The first step is getting informed.”
Cosponsors of the walk include Alpha Phi Omega (APO), Omega Phi Beta, GOYA, Circle K, Chi Alpha Epsilon, Rutgers PCRF, Take Back the Tap, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), RU Global Citizens, the Future Teachers Association (FTA), GlobeMed and the Bioethics Society.
Avalon Zoppo is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science. She is the managing editor of The Daily Targum. Find her on Twitter @avalonzoppo.