Living Water: What we can and can’t do about the global water crisis

original

Published on Thomson Reuters Foundation for International Youth Day on 09.08.13

Source: Fri, 9 Aug 2013 04:10 PM
Author: Alicia Hosking

Scrawled on the wall in the shower block where I do hot yoga on Tuesday nights are the words, ‘Non c’è vita senza acqua’ – that is, ‘There’s no life without water’. When thinking about the biggest global challenges we face today, access to clean water and sanitation would have to be right at the top of the list.

With five years to spare, the world has achieved UN Millennium Development Goal number 7D and halved the proportion of the planet’s population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Since 1990, 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved water sources. But ‘halved’ means the other half of the problem remains.

The facts are still astounding: 768 million people lack access to safe water, mainly in developing regions across sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. Globally, 2.5 billion people don’t have access to a toilet, meaning more people have a mobile phone than a WC.

Collectively, women and girls spend 200 million hours every day walking to collect water. That’s time they can’t spend in education, working or taking care of their families, and time when they’re at greater risk of harassment and sexual assault.

When they do arrive at the nearest water source, after a hike of up to three hours, the supply is often plagued with waterborne diseases like malaria, diarrhea and cholera. In fact, water-related diseases kill more people every year than all forms of violence around the world, including war. Most tragically of all, every 21 seconds a mother loses a child to a water-related illness.

As with many of the world’s most pressing social challenges, the enormity of the issue can paralyse us into doing nothing. But nothing is precisely what we cannot do. There are, hidden within every day, simple yet profound opportunities for us all to address the gross inequality that exists between the San Pellegrino drinker and the woman walking to the well.

Waste not, want not

Seemingly minor water savings in our homes can help turn the tide, as it were, on the global water crisis. We use an average of 137 litres of water per day on obvious things around the house, like drinking, cooking, showering, cleaning and laundry. But there is another, less visible way in which we get through far more water: the 167 litres used to produce the industrial products we consume in an average day, like paper, cotton and clothes. The old mantra comes to mind: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Watch what you eat

The big one, though, weighing in at 92 percent of our average daily consumption, is water spent on food production. Some 3,496 litres of water are hidden in our food each day. In fact, around 90 percent of the planet’s freshwater withdrawals go on feeding us.

Devout carnivores don’t like to hear it, but beef production is the worst perpetrator. All things considered (crop irrigation, drinking water, farmhouse services), it takes 14,400 litres of water to produce one kilogramme of boneless beef. In stark contrast, 822 litres go into producing a kilo of apples, 1,220 litres into a kilo of maize, 2,145 litres for a kilo of soya beans and 2,500 litres for a kilo of rice.

Initiatives like Meatless Mondays, founded in the USA in 2003, are gaining momentum worldwide, encouraging those less enthused about tofu and lentils to give up meat for just one day a week to help ease the environmental strain. Choosing meat raised on grass, rather than corn or grain, is preferable wherever possible and reducing food waste is crucial.

Drink responsibly

While the environmental impact and volume of water wastage surrounding the bottled water industry is a point of concern, there are brands out there intent on making a difference in developing nations.

Take for example Australian start-up Thankyou Water. Founded by Daniel Flynn five years ago when he was just 19 years-old, Thankyou Water has developed a sustainable business model by which every single unit sold at retail provides at least a month’s worth of safe water to someone in need. Using their ‘Track Your Impact’ app, customers can enter a code found on their purchased product and trace their contribution to the cause.

Give it away now

Charity: water, established by New York marketing guru Scott Harrison back in 2006, has created the birthdays campaign, providing each of us with a great opportunity to change the world once a year.

Birthday pledgers sign up to forego traditional presents, instead encouraging loved ones to donate towards the construction of water wells. To date, over 40,000 people, including Justin Bieber, Tony Hawk and the band Depeche Mode, have chosen to make a social impact with their birthday, raising more than $9 million for water projects around the globe.

The feeling of a refreshing shower or a cool drink of clean water is second to none – particularly after 90 minutes of hot yoga. Everyone should know how that feels.

Non c’è vita senza acqua.

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2013 MTV EMA Reaches Biggest Global Audience Yet

Published on blog.viacom.com on 06.12.13

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There were fireworks, there was party rocking, and of course, there was Miley. The “2013 MTV EMA” certainly was an epic success – and the numbers can attest.

Broadcast live from Amsterdam’s state-of-the-art Ziggo Dome on Sunday 10th November, the “2013 MTV EMA” drew its biggest global audience ever via MTV’s 60+ channels around the world.

The show’s overall estimated global reach hit record-breaking figures, with an estimated 55 million viewers tuning in worldwide. Outside the U.S., viewership was up +5% over last year’s show.

Not only did the TV broadcast reach unchartered territory, but the “2013 MTV EMA” generated more interactivity across digital platforms than ever before. It attracted the highest number of online votes in its history: a grand total of 323 million votes were cast across Viacom digital platforms worldwide, a staggering +76% increase from 2012. Videos hosted on EMA digital platforms received some 10.7 million views – more than ever before – and an unprecedented 2.2 million online viewers streamed the show live across Viacom platforms.

Fans not only voted, viewed and streamed – they also posted and tweeted in unprecedented numbers. Globally there were 59.2 million mentions of the MTV EMA, generating no less than 34 worldwide trending topics.

Across broadcast, online and social media, the “2013 MTV EMA” reached unprecedented highs, delivering an out-of-this-world party experience to MTV’s global millennial audience.

– See more at: http://blog.viacom.com/2013/12/2013-mtv-ema-reaches-biggest-global-audience-yet/#sthash.QEYcd2Be.dpuf

Day in the Life…Working Press for MTV’s Annual International Tentpole, ‘Isle of MTV’ in Malta

Published on blog.viacom.com on 01.10.13

Isle-of-Malta

They’re the longest days but the best days – the days when we don’t have time to eat, use the loo, or sleep, but we run, smartphone in hand, fueled by caffeine and adrenaline, to the finish line that is… SHOWTIME!

This is an account of such a day according to us, the VIMN Communications team, on the Mediterranean island of Malta for the annual spectacle known as the Isle of MTV.  The 2013 event was held on Wednesday, June 26th, and boy, was it a memorable one.

NB: The following may or may not contain elements of PR spin…

Wednesday, June 26th

07:45
Wake up. Realize Blackberry has not charged, thanks to faulty hotel power adaptor, cry a little bit. It’s going to be a day of syphoning battery juice on the run. Apply sunscreen.

08:30
Pre-breakfast meeting with co-lead to plan for full team breakfast meeting. Coffee #1.

09:15
Breakfast meeting with the team. Run through the day’s schedule and team roles and responsibilities. Remember to eat. Coffees #2 and #3.

10:00
Meeting with hotel staff to inspect press junket facilities. Set up outdoor marquee to service a press conference and interviews in 38 degree Celsius heat (aka 100+ degrees Fahrenheit) with Isle of MTV 2013 talent: Jessie J, Rita Ora, Rudimental and DJ Afrojack. Accreditation table: check. Step and repeat: check. Drinks and buckets and buckets of ice: check. Glorious view of ancient Maltese harbor: check!

11:30
Local and international media arrive. Photographers in place, press briefed, drinks served, cameras ready to roll.

12:00
Powerhouse songstress Jessie J wows the world’s press with her down-to-earth style, quirky sense of humor and surprise impromptu accapella performance of a brand new track. Tells press conference how much MTV has influenced her growing up, wins brownie points from Comms team. Is complete gem!

12:45
London boys Rudimental arrive, pose for photos and spend the next hour chatting with groups of press. Band requests roast beef sandwiches; Talent and Music team delivers chocolate instead. Find power outlet, charge phone, re-apply sunscreen.

14:45
Afrojack arrives moments after landing in his AfroJet, poses for photos and completes round-table interview. Impresses all with notable stature (the dude is 6’9’’!), washboard abs (he was changing his T-shirt, ok?) and one handed push-ups. Legend.

16:05
The beautiful, charming Rita Ora arrives, gives exclusive interview to Vanity Fair Italy. Poses for photos with hotel staff and fans. Is total babe.

16:45
Press junket wraps. High fives all round. Food!

17:45
Quick dip in the Med, regain zen before long night of rocking out on the run. Coffee #4. Find power outlet, charge phone. Costume change.

18:30
Hitch lift to show on the back of house photographer’s Vespa. #winning

19:00
Showtime! Divide and conquer – one team member hosting press on the VIP platform, one in the photo pit herding photographers in and out, one on the run with the house photographer capturing all of the behind-the-scenes action. Local DJs and artists get the party started. 50,000-strong crowd looks amazing!

19:50
Rudimental take to the stage en masse (there are nine of them!), wielding keyboards, synths, drums and lots of brass. Self-proclaimed “on-stage carnival” more than lives up to the hype, instantly wins them approx. 45,000 new fans.

20:55
Rita Ora shows up in white leather bodice and suit; reveals abs to rival Afrojack’s. Shows Isle of MTV exactly why she’s one of the most talked about new names in music. Kicks a**!

22:05
Jessie J hits the stage with racy new look, new material and new take on her global smash hits. Performance packs a punch – she doesn’t stop moving for entire hour-long set, except to break up a fight in the crowd. Gives the kids exactly what they came for.

23:35
Afrojack turns Il-Fosos Square into giant outdoor club. Staff members join in bouncing to the beat with the end of a hugely successful show in sight!

Thursday, June 27th

00:00    
It’s a wrap. Happy crowd, happy press, happy talent, happy team. Hugs all around.

00:15
The night is but young – there’s news to issue and deadlines to hit. Team reconvenes at hotel to bang out press release. Coffee #5 (yeah, that’s right). Find power outlet, charge phone.

1:30
Hard drive of show footage delivered by the trusty production team, ready to upload for the morning’s breakfast news programmes.

2:00
Comms team show faces at afterparty. Drink one beer, locate some food, party with journalists for total of 48 minutes.

2:48
Return to hotel to check on upload of show footage to breakfast news.

4:00                        Hotel wifi proves troublesome. Head to lobby, pinch ethernet cable from hotel reception, upload speed steadily improves.

Approx. 6:45      Fall asleep on couch in hotel lobby using cushion covers as blankets. Get spotted by Vanity Fair Italy writer leaving for early morning flight. #fashionfail

7:00
Upload complete. Bed. For 3 hours. Until shuttle to airport.

10:30
Check the day’s headlines and smile. “MTV show thrills crowds”, “Isle of MTV rocks Malta for seventh time”, “Isle of MTV a great success”!

Can’t wait for next year! We love Isle of MTV

Isle of MTV 2013 will be broadcast as a 60-minute special across MTV’s international network of channels and platforms beginning 3rd August as part of the MTV World Stage franchise.

What’s Up World? #38

Published on MTV’s international pro-social website MTV Voices on 31.07.13

What’s Up World?
Between the cracks of the world’s news headlines.

Burka-Avenger

Don’t mess with the Burka Avenger

A brand new, kick-ass super hero is about to hit the small screen in Pakistan.

Mild-mannered teacher by day, stationery-wielding ninja by night, the Burka Avenger is taking on the Taliban and fighting for safe education for girls, one school at a time.

Created by one of Pakistan’s biggest pop stars, Haroon, the first animated series ever produced in the country is a creative response to one of the nation’s major social issues.

In a country where the Taliban have blown up hundreds of schools, poisoned and thrown acid on schoolgirls and last year attracted international outrage for shooting 15 year old Malala Yousafzai in the head, Burka Avenger is set to bring strong social messaging to Pakistani kids, emphasising the importance of peace, justice and access to education.

Getting big in Japan

The young women of Tokyo are being asked to sport mini-skirts and thigh-high socks – and let big name brands advertise on the skin in between.

Campaigns for punk band Greenday and Hollywood feature film Ted have been amongst the first to try their luck with the ‘skinvertising‘ programme, which requires the girls to walk around town for eight hours a day with the graphics painted on their thighs.

While the (male) PR agent responsible describes girls’ thighs as prime advertising real estate – as, apparently, men’s eyes are already on them – others view the concept as another step in the sexual objectification of women’s bodies in advertising and are calling for the boycott of brands and companies that take part.

What do you think? Good PR or exploitative and sexist? One guess what I think…

Why Instagram is making you sad

We discussed some time ago the perils of trawling through friends’ Facebook posts and the rise of Facebook envy, but it seems there’s a bigger threat looming to our social media happiness: Instagram.

Researchers say that by distilling the most envy-inducing element of Facebook, ie. the photos, providing users with means for careful curation / polishing / distortion of reality and then keeping count of ‘likes’ and comments, Instagram is like a social media KO to the old self-esteem.

They say comparison and competition with others, paired with the app’s ample opportunity for stalking, can lead to feelings of disconnection, inferiority, loneliness and even depression.

So rest assured – if the filtered, enhanced, trimmed, tweaked, polished and filtered again happy snaps of people you love (and people you don’t love) are making you feel a bit rubbish, you’re certainly not alone. *plays Everybody Hurts*

High five Peru!

Green technology is generating social change in Peru.

The country’s Energy and Mining Minister Jorge Merino has announced a new solar energy program, The National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program, which will provide electricity to more than two million of the poorest Peruvians.

Right now only66% of Peru’s populationhas access to electricity – the rest use oil lamps for light, with fuels that can harm their health. The program will increase that number to 95% by the end of 2016, with the installation of some 12,000 solar panels to service the most impoverished communities. Nice one Jorge!

Something brewing in your part of the world? We want to know about it. Tweet @its_alicia or @mtvvoices using the hashtag #WhatsUpWorld

What’s Up World? #37

Published on MTV’s international pro-social website MTV Voices on 23.07.13

What’s Up World?
Between the cracks of the world’s news headlines

wuw-1

Save the Awá

The earth’s most endangered tribe, the Awá, are on the brink of extinction due to the illegal deforestation of their territory in the eastern Amazon.

With only 355 tribe members thought to be remaining, the Awá are one of only two hunter-gatherer tribes left in the Brazilian Amazon. Not only are armed, illegal loggers invading their territory to exploit it for valuable timber, but entire families are being killed, as ‘pistoleros’ (hired gunmen) hunt Awá who stand in the way of land grabbers.

But in the past few weeks, according to reports, the Brazilian army has moved in around the Awá’s territory, deploying tanks, helicopters and a hundreds other vehicles, closing timber mills and confiscating loggers’ machinery.

The plight of the Awá has drawn international attention since the commencement of a grass roots campaign by tribal rights group Survival International last year. To add your voice, take a look here.

Sisters of Somalia

Ummm, Asha Haji Elmi is my new hero. There’s a good chance she’ll be yours too after watching this.

A special news report, Sisters of Somalia, is shining a light on the work Asha, her sister Amina and her organization Saving Somali Women and Children (SSWC) is doing to bring dignity to the women and girls living in Mogadishu’s refugee camps.

After years of unrelenting conflict, drought and famine, Somalia has been devastated beyond belief, and some 500,000 people are still living in refugee camps in pretty dire conditions.But no matter how big the problem may seem, Asha and the SSWC show an unrelenting hope, as they work to restore dignity to the vulnerable women and children they meet in the camps.

Definitely upsetting but absolutely worth a watch.

Safety first

Ah, the joys of technology. As inventors and creatives put their minds together for the common good, new and emerging inventions are making playtime safer around the world.

A new, crowd-funded laser bike light called Blaze could help save the lives of cyclists on busy London roads. Created by young inventor Emily Brooke, Blaze projects a glowing green image of a cyclist ahead of riders, giving buses, cars, trucks and other predators an early heads up that a two-wheeled bandit is approaching.

Meanwhile in Western Australia, technology is deterring another kind of predator, as scientists and inventors unveil the ‘invisibility wetsuit’, designed to camouflage surfers in the ocean and warn off sharks.

Little Sun, the invention of artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen, is a global project to bring safe, affordable light to the 1.6 billion people worldwide who have no access to the electrical grid. Working in a similar way to the TOMS shoes model, buying one of the hand-sized, sun-shaped, solar-powered lamps allows one to be sold off-grid at a locally affordable price. You can buy your very own Little Sun here.

Something brewing in your part of the world? We want to know about it. Tweet @its_alicia or @mtvvoices using the hashtag #WhatsUpWorld

What’s Up World? #36

Published on MTV’s international pro-social website MTV Voices on 17.07.13

What’s Up World?
Between the cracks of the world’s news headlines.

knight-rider

Winning at life

Who said computer games rot your brain? Actually, they can do quite the opposite.

Revolutionary application Foldit is allowing online gamers to contribute to scientific research by discovering the shapes of proteins. It’s kind of like molecular chess and kind of like Tetris, but it’s in 3D and the rules are based on physics. Oh, and winning could help cure cancer, HIV/AIDSand Alzheimer’s.

Understanding the rules of protein folding remains one of biology’s greatest challenges and because computers don’t yet have spatial reasoning skills quite like ours, there’s a lot of work to be done. So University of Washington scientists created Foldit in 2008 to effectively crowd-source biological solutions.

It works like this: Foldit presents players with a hairy-looking puzzle – a 3D render of a protein – and they fold it into its optimum shape, following the laws of physics. The more chemically stable the folded protein becomes, the more points players are awarded – and the more their solution contributes to medical science.

Confused? Watch this video. And if you feel like casually saving lives in your down time, take a look here.

Stand with Ye Haiyan

One of China’s most prominent women’s rights activist Ye Haiyan and her family have been made homeless by security police in the province of Guangdong, say local blog posts and news outlets.

Well known for standing up for the rights of sex workers, people with AIDS and abused children, Ye was thrown out of her home, along with her family and their possessions at 2am last Saturday and dumped on a roadside.

The forced eviction is the latest in a month-long succession of attacks on Ye by local authorities, after her online protest against the alleged rape of six primary school students by their school principal and a government official went viral, drawing major attention to child abuse and government corruption.

Wish your car was more like a smartphone?

Well, you’re in luck.

According to figures from the USA, we may be approaching the end of car culture, with the number of young people learning to drive having gone downhill (pardon the pun) over the past 30 years. Environmental awareness, struggling economies and sociological changes (like the rise of online communication) are all thought to play a part in the u-turn (and again). So the car industry has to come up with innovative ways to give the kids what they want.

Enter the futuristiccars for people who hate cars.

The coolest has got to be the Fun Vii concept car from Toyota. Like some kind of wonderful dream starring Michael J. Fox come true, the Fun Vii looks like a tablet on wheels, with an LED-screen ‘digital skin’ that can change depending on the driver’s mood. The driver can read news, chat with friends, send emails, check the weather and stay connected while driving. Seriously, watch this.

Others automobiles looking to appeal to the millennialinclude the world’s most fuel-efficient production car, the Volkswagen XL1, the Apple-inspired, solar-powered Midier and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which accelerates, changes lanes and parks by itself Knight Rider style.

Something brewing in your part of the world? We want to know about it. Tweet @its_alicia or @mtvvoices using the hashtag #WhatsUpWorld.

What’s Up World? #35

Published on MTV’s international pro-social website MTV Voices on 10.07.13

What’s Up World?
Between the cracks of the world’s news headlines

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School of rock

We’ve all been desperate to get out of a class at some time or another, but this is taking things a bit too far…

Two cases have been reported over the past week of students drugging teachers in high schools in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

An English professor from the National High School Aguirre Abad says she was drugged three times with a hallucinogenic substance spread across her desk, causing dizziness, numbness and sleepiness and preventing her from teaching. Another teacher from Tola High School was also drugged – three students have been arrested after a police investigation.

The presence of drugs in Ecuadorian schools has been a major issue for some time, due to the cheap availability of class A substances and the country’s location as a ‘cocaine corridor’ between the USA and Europe.

Losing Nemo

A new animated short film is drawing attention to the overfishing of the world’s oceans.

Presented by The Black Fish ocean conservation movement, Losing Nemo explains that of the 80 million tonnes of seafood harvested each year (that’s 2 trillion individual animals!) 40% is unwanted by-catch –  which means it’s thrown back into the ocean either dead or wounded.

According to the serious-disguised-as-cute short film, an astounding 90% of all large fish have disappeared from our oceans since the 1950s, and fishing continues at the same rate we could have an empty ocean by 2048. Scary stuff!

You can watch Losing Nemo here.

Cows for girls

The young ladies of South Sudan are not happy.

In someparts of the country the dowry prices paid for brides have doubled twice in the last two years. Child marriage is commonplace in South Sudan, and as the prices families charge for their daughters get higher and higher, they’re encouraged to marry them off younger and younger – many of them against their will.

Girls as young as 12 are being exchanged for hundreds of cattle, increasing the rate of female school dropouts. Many say the families who must pay the inflated dowries find themselves in danger of going bankrupt and link increasing bride prices to deadly cattle raids.

Around half of South Sudanese girls aged between 15 and 19 are married and the government who are now mulling over a law to cap dowries at a more appropriate rate.

Just a heads up

Neuroscientist Dr. Sergio Canavero from Torino, Italy, has announced to the world the possibility of the first full human head transplant.

For an estimated 13 million dollars, Dr. Canavero is confident he could reduce the temperature of two bodies to around 18*C (64.4*F), sever their heads with an ‘ultra sharp blade’ and fuse the donor head with the recipient’s body using a special glue.

Some specialists say the Head Anastomosis Venture (code-named HEAVEN) “opens a brand new field for contemporary medical science”. Others say “the whole concept is bizarre”. I say this could take the concept of the face lift to a whole new level…

Something brewing in your part of the world? We want to know about it. Tweet @its_alicia or @mtvvoices using the hashtag #WhatsUpWorld