The UAE walks the talk

Clean water for everyone could save the lives of 1.5 million children

By Najla Al Rostamani (Frankly ?Speaking)

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Tue 15 Jul 2014, 9:13 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:38 PM

The UAE is almost always perceived as the place of an abundance of glitzy high-rise buildings, and a haven of warm swathes of sand, sun and sea. It is, on many occasions, correlated with negative or downgrading connotations; and with criticism for one thing or the other.

Yet one aspect that is more often overlooked, if not ignored, is the extent of the UAE’s generosity in outreaching its assistance and help to numerous charitable campaigns across many countries. The UAE does back up its promises of good deeds with action, and this is one aspect about the country that cannot be denied.

Just as the month of Ramadan commenced, a campaign to provide clean drinking water for five million people across the world was launched. The campaign aims at digging water wells, provide water pumps and water purification equipment for the most dire of areas that are the most in need of such resources. Dubbed as UAE Water Aid; or Suqia Al Emarat, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, inaugurated the campaign as being part of the annual practice of charitable works that are announced during the holy month. Within six days of its launch, the campaign managed to collect at least 80 million Dirhams, which represented almost three quarters of what it aimed to gather in total.

But why water? The gravity of not having access to clean water is perhaps not understood in so many parts of the world within its greater context as being a serious problem. This is understandable to some extent given the fact that for many, the availability and accessibility to water is taken for granted.

But the matter is not as simple as it seems. The UN estimates that 768 million people are still using unsafe drinking water. This is leading to the death of almost 3.5 million people annually, mainly due to the inadequacy of the water supply and sanitation, and access to hygienic source of water. Unfortunately, it is children who are the most vulnerable party given that they cannot fight the parasites inhabiting unclean water.

Not being able to drink clean water means for all those young lives a life-long sickness at best and death at worst. As a matter of fact, if all children across the globe had access to clean water, it would automatically save the lives of 1.5 million, according to the UN. In addition, the burden of collecting water in many areas falls mainly on women and children, whom in many cases are forced to travel long distances to fetch water, which is not guaranteed to be clean.

But illness from unclean water also has its own ramifications on adults as well. It means that those affected by a disease will be less productive due to constant health ailments, and hence, will fail to provide adequate support to their families. If affected, pregnant women are at risk of losing two lives. And when large numbers of people are falling sick most of the time, it means that not so many will be able to work, and hence, fail to be part of turning the cycle of any given economy. A developing society will need healthy and productive individuals – foremost children — if it is to progress and advance and achieve its development plans.

Having access to clean water affects many facets of the daily lives of millions who are in need of it. It means that the water they are drinking will not lead to any kind of illness, let alone death. Water is not limited to being used as a source of drinking. The problem of unclean water becomes more complicated as this very same unhygienic source is used for cooking and cleaning. Hence, a single source that is supposed to provide nourishment turns into one that facilitates harm in so many ways. Whether it is used for drinking, cleaning, bathing, washing, or cooking, unclean water could equal death.

It is therefore within this bigger picture of vital matters that the UAE Water Aid campaign should be perceived. And this is why, it is also only appropriate to appreciate the country being at the forefront in championing charitable works. The UAE walks the talk and does not confine itself with hollow words and no deeds.

Beyond the posh, gloss and sparkle that many view this country, the UAE proves to be a caring nation. And such a character is by no means one that is confined to Emiratis, as many of those working and residing in the country are also active participants in the drive for supporting such initiatives. Whether it is five million or five dirhams, the act of giving is not about who gives the most. It is, above all, about who cares — and the UAE by far do indeed care the most.

Najla Al Rostamani is a UAE-based media consultant and columnist with interests in local and international socio-political affairs

More news from