'A footprint means pressing down and global means world, so 'global footprint' means pressing down on the world and we don't want to press too hard' (child's definition of a Global Footprint)
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what about climate change?

Hope for a more equal water footprint

Robbing Peter to pay Paul – or taking from the rich to benefit the poor – is rarely popular. But it seems that doing this can help bring clean, safe water and sanitation to some of the world’s poorest families and communities. In South Africa for example, all water companies are forced to provide a certain amount of water free of charge. This may mean charging those who can pay, a little more. But surely this is a small price to pay for providing clean water to those whose very life depends on it. 

Case studies

  • UNICEF Real life stories of children and young people around the world who are benefiting from, and contributing to, water and sanitation projects in their communities.
  • WaterAid Short case studies of children who have lived their lives with dirty water and how they have been helped to make life better.

Did you Know?

One large footprint often leads to another…and another…

A large footprint in one area often leads to a large footprint in other issues too! For example, visiting a foreign country usually means we fly – travelling by plane is by far the most environmentally damaging way to travel, giving us a gigantic transport footprint and carbon footprint.

When we get to our destination we often stay in hotels that use large amounts of water – swimming pools, golf courses, showers etc; in some countries tourists can more than double the local population during the hottest driest times of the year and lead to serious water shortages, leaving local people without any water. So we end up with a large and damaging water footprint.

Sometimes water is also used to irrigate all those exotic fruit and vegetables we enjoy on holiday; grown on land and using water that could be used to produce food for local people instead. So, holidays can leave you with a large food footprint too!

Can you think of other ways in which taking one large step leads to another large step…and another?

Water: saviour and killer

Water is Life! But it can be a killer too. Access to clean water and sanitation is one of the most important guarantees of good health. Dirty water on the other hand can harbour serious illnesses and diseases.

At any one time, close to half the population of the developing world is suffering from water-related diseases. Children are especially at risk as their bodies are less developed than adults', and so less able to resist illness. Many children miss school because of illnesses caused by problems with water and sanitation.

For more information on water and health see a UNICEF factsheet

Water can be fresh but never new. All the water in the world, in the ice caps, the oceans, the clouds, in the rivers and under the ground, is about a billion years old. There’s always been the same stock of water on Earth, it just moves around the planet, changing to ice or seawater or rain.

People can move it around too, but – we can’t get any more of it! We’ll just have to use our water stock carefully. And the tiny percentage of the Earth’s water that humans can drink – about 3% is fresh water – is ancient too. It could just be that a dinosaur once drank your next gulp of water!