Entries in Water (1)


Matt Damon's Clean Water Mission

Gary Gershoff/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Actor Matt Damon is on a mission to improve access to one of the world's most precious resources: water.

"It's really hard for people like us to relate to it, because it's just never been something we had to think about," Damon told This Week anchor Christiane Amanpour. "Clean water is only as far away as the nearest tap, and there are taps everywhere. There's a faucet everywhere. But the reality is, the water in our toilets is cleaner than the water that most people are drinking."

While water covers 70 percent of the earth's surface, less than 3 percent is drinkable. Beyond the challenges of drought and overuse in some parts of the world, lack of access to clean water has a wide impact.

The figures are staggering: Nearly a billion people—one in eight people worldwide—lack access to safe, clean drinking water, mostly in large portions of Africa and South Asia, and about 2.5 billion are without proper sanitation. More than 3 million people die every year from water-related disease, with a child dying every 20 seconds due to lack of clean water and sanitation.

It's these kinds of startling statistics that moved Damon to team up with environmentalist Gary White in 2009 to start, a non-profit organization "committed to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries."

Damon said he was inspired to take action to improve access to clean water after meeting a 14-year-old girl in Zambia going out to collect water for her family from a local well.

"It just hit me that had someone not had the foresight to sink a bore well a mile from where she lived, she wouldn't be in school, because her entire life would revolve around scavenging for water," Damon said. "And she wouldn't have any hope, she wouldn't have any dreams. She'd be stuck in this kind of death spiral of poverty."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio