Wednesday, September 12, 2007

He’s got 99 problems and the Water Crisis is One.

The statistics concerning the world’s water crisis are staggering: 1.1 billion people have no access to safe water, every day 4,400 children under the age of five die because of unclean water and sanitation, and five times as many children die each year from diarrhea than from HIV/AIDS. It’s no surprise that it is the developing world that feels the brunt of this crisis.

So what is fueling this global problem? Many poor people live outside the scope of the water infrastructure, and lack the legal rights to demand an adequate water supply. General scarcity, corruption, and global warming further perpetuate this problem. However, late last year, the water crisis was tackled by a seemingly unlikely character – hip-hop mogul Sean Carter, better known as Jay-Z. And when Jay talks, the world’s youth listen. With the help of the United Nations and MTV, Jay-Z is launching a worldwide concert tour called "Water for Life" to draw attention to the water crisis and aid support programs to end the global issue. Most of the concerts are located in developing countries, where Jay will not only perform, but give talks about the necessity for an improved water system. While meeting with former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss his plans, Jay explained,

"It's a huge responsibility, and humbling at the same time."

Jay-Z has personally provided funds to help build “play pumps,” which resemble Merry-Go-Rounds that pump clean drinking water when they are spun, and has enlisted the help of his celebrity friends to do the same. But perhaps Jay’s greatest accomplishment will simply be educating the MTV generation of the fact that issues affecting the developing world, are really issues that affect everyone. A celebrity with a social conscience, now that’s refreshing.