Christian Groups Shed Light on 'Silent Killer'

WASHINGTON – Christian groups hope to shed light today on the "silent and deadly killer" that takes away more lives than any form of violence or disease.

"It does not discriminate against age, gender or ethnicity, but claims the lives of nearly thousands every day," read the message on the Christian ministry Living Water International website for World Water Day 2007. "This silent killer is contaminated water."

In many poor villages in the developing world, women and children spend their entire day collecting water for their family. However, the water that requires so much effort to collect will kill more than 13,000 people a day due to water-related diseases.

For other villages, water scarcity has led to violence and death as different tribes fight over water sources. In Kenya, for example, the Maasai and Kikuyu tribes have in the past often engaged in violence for water, resulting in the deaths of over 120 people in 2005 when the Kikuyus blocked the water source for the Maasai livestock.

In response to the conflict, two Church groups – Church World Service (CWS) and The Potters House – stepped in to facilitate peace talks resulting in the construction of three wells in 2005.

CWS has continued to be active in campaigns for clean water and is taking part in World Water Day events today in both Washington, D.C., and New York City. CWS will present its Water for All Campaign at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City where its representative will speak about the CWS campaign's impact on development, gender equality, health, the special needs of children, and water advocacy worldwide in Africa.

A film entitled  Troubled Waters produced by the United Church of Christ in partnership with the ABC television network will also be featured at the New York City event.

This year's World Water Day theme is "Coping with Water Scarcity."

The United Nations General Assembly designated Mar. 22 as World Water Day in 1992 in hopes of raising awareness about the world's water crisis and to remember the estimated 1.1 billion people in the world without access to clean, safe water. The U.N. hopes that each nation will observe the day and set up concrete activities to help address the problem.