Student story: UNICEF helps provide clean drinking water to countries in need

Collinsville High SchoolApril 8, 2014 

In an age where technology surrounds you, it's hard to ignore it.

That's because until now you haven't had a good reason to. UNICEF decided to give you one. It's called the UNICEF Tap Project.

UNICEF stands for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. UNICEF was established on Dec. 11, 1946, by the United Nations to help meet children's needs in post-war Europe and Asia. UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories.

In order to raise money for hygiene awareness, UNICEF asked people to put down their phones. For every 10 minutes that participants did not touch their phones, UNICEF provided one child with safe drinking water for a day. The project, launched in 2007, has helped 768 million children get clean water.

While UNICEF no longer focuses its efforts on post-war conditions, it has maintained its philanthropic nature by dealing with issues such as nutrition, disabilities, early childhood development, health, immunization, life skills, pandemic influenza, developmental sports and the biggest issue in third world countries -- water, sanitation and hygiene.

Mandy Sharp Eizinger, a program officer for UNICEF, provided the statistics for the help they received this year.

"We had almost 4 million unique visitors, more than 212 million minutes that people went without their phone, and over 15,000 volunteer signups," Eizinger said. "To top it all off, over 1,300 advocacy actions have been taken so far."

The United States does not live with the daily threat of dirty water because water is sanitized before being pumped to homes.

Bill Kavaliunas, chief operator of water quality for Collinsville, described the process tap water goes through.

"We used to use chlorine, but due to the poisonous gas, we had to switch methods," Kavaliunas said. "Now, we use MIOX. We put MIOX in the water, and then run it through an electric cell. This combination acts similar to chlorine in the water, purifying and sanitizing. To check for further safety, we run bacteria samples in 15 different places twice a month."

Although the United States isn't affected by unclean water like other countries, UNICEF knows the need is out there.

Every day, approximately 1,400 children die due to the lack of clean water, and around 2.5 billion people in the world live in unsanitary conditions.

Even though the UNICEF Tap project is over, you can still help. For those who would like to go a step further, you have the option to donate just $1 to provide 40 days of safe drinking water. It's time Americans broaden their line of sight to what happens outside of its borders.

More information about UNICEF, its partners, and other projects can be found at http://www.unicefusa.org.

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