Move over, Ice Bucket Challenge. Experience the clean water crisis firsthand, and help alleviate water poverty for some of the 2.5 billion people without access to clean water, with the 4Liters challenge.
The average American uses about 400 liters of water per day at home, even in regions where drought and water scarcity are fast becoming the norm. That figure is well above what's considered to be the minimum for human needs - about 50 liters per day - and yet water is still so cheap and accessible in most municipalities that it's easy to use (and waste) way more than we need.
And that 400 liters of water doesn't even seem like all that much (unless you're a water conservation rockstar) until you contrast it with the average Haitian, who has to get by on just a tiny fraction of that - 4 liters - for all of their daily needs. Billions of other people on the planet experience hardships and scarcity related to water and sanitation every single day, and this water poverty takes a huge toll on their lives.
Last year, to help raise awareness of the water poverty issue, and to raise money to build new clean water projects in the developing world, the LA-based human rights nonprofit DIGDEEP launched their first 4Liters Challenge, which asked people to live on just 4 liters of water for 24 hours. That October, the 602 participants raised a combined $17,400 to defend the human right to clean water through sustainable water projects, water access advocacy, and educational projects.
This year's 4Liters Challenge begins on October 6th and runs for the entire month, with participants choosing to use just 4 liters of water per day, either for a single day or multiple days, and to document the experience and share it with their social networks (using the hashtag #4Liters). In addition to living in virtual water poverty for a day, participants will also try to raise at least $40 for the project from their friends and networks, and then to challenge at least 4 other people to take the 4Liters Challenge (who can avoid the Challenge by donating $40 instead).
Of course, using just 4 liters of water per day for drinking, cooking, and washing is not nearly as sexy, at least by internet standards, as dumping a bucket of ice water on your head is, so raising massive amounts of money for clean water projects with it might be a bit trickier than it was for the recent ALS campaign. And because most of us may live our entire lives without ever knowing anyone that lives in water poverty, this cause is a bit harder to make personal, unless you bring it right home and take the challenge yourself.
The 4Liters Challenge is also an excellent opportunity for teachers to talk about water, poverty and human rights, and to get kids engaged in learning firsthand what water poverty is like. The 4Liters website is a great resource, and a free multidisciplinary curriculum, including a detailed teacher's guide, is available for educators.
Find out more, or sign up for this year's Challenge, at 4Liters.