First Step to Solving the Global Water Crisis: Learn About It
From sub-Saharan Africa to the California coast, we face a global water crisis—a fact that shouldn’t come as too much of a shock for anyone. The facts are clear: 1 in 10 people lack access to safe water and 1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet.  In the developing world, 1.2 billion people lack access to safe water. 
In response, various companies and nonprofits continuously cite these statistics and collaborate on initiatives to increase access to safe and clean water. As an example, Water.org partnered with brewer Stella Artois to pledge a month’s worth of safe water for every pint sold. 
But as an everyday consumer, these various efforts often capture our attention only for brief moments in time, while statistics (like the ones mentioned earlier) start to lose their meaning. How often do we think about the issues beyond the flashy campaign ads and the numbers on a page? The likely answer is not enough.
Consequently, these statistics start to lose their shock factor. Meanwhile, millions around the world continue to suffer from not having access to what has been deemed a fundamental human right.  What’s more, issues surrounding water cannot just be left alone to nonprofits or even our governing bodies. It was once reported that during one five-year period, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was only able to respond to 3 percent of the half a million reported violations of the Clean Water Act. 
As global citizens, we must commit to a deeper understanding of water—from the way it impacts us to what factors are impacting the global water supply. It’s the fundamental step towards becoming an active participant in the discussion around how to increase access to safe and clean water around the world.
On edX—a free online learning destination offering courses from the world’s best universities to anyone, anywhere—global citizens can dive deep on the global water crisis, expand their knowledge and connect with a global learning community. These courses are free to take, and don’t just provide a perspective on the current state of affairs, but how to think about water and other related issues in new and unexpected ways.
- Water Management: Learn about the fundamentals of water treatment, including understanding the global water cycle, how climate changes effects water systems, pollutants in sewage, and more; offered by Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
- Urban Sewage Treatment: Learn about urban water services, focusing on basic sewage treatment technologies; offered by Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
- Rethink the City: New approaches to Global and Local Urban Challenges: Learn about current challenges cities face and how to meet them, going beyond traditional urban strategies and policies; offered by Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
- Introduction to Water and Climate: Learn about the impact of climate change on the water cycle and water availability; offered by Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
- Drinking Water Treatment: Learn about the considerations that go into treating water in urban areas; offered by Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
- Urban Water - Innovations for Environmental Sustainability: Learn how to address the global water crisis through environmentally sustainable urbanism; offered by University of British Columbia
Courses like these offer everyday citizens to become active agents of change by offering a deep yet wide and global perspective on the core issues at hand—whether that’s the impact of climate change on water to improvements needed to global water infrastructure. Proactively pursuing a deeper knowledge of water, rather than being a passive recipient of information, will also help in sorting through the volumes of information we’re bombarded with every day, ultimately allowing us to make better and more informed decisions about how to convert information into actionable change.
The water crisis is especially important to understand because it impacts other important areas of our lives like sanitation, health and nutrition, and infrastructure. More importantly, it’s not just everybody’s problem but also an opportunity for anyone to offer a solution. Learning about it is a critical step towards moving the needle on this pertinent issue.