There is as much water in the world today as there ever was, yet one in five people do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. Water-related illness is the leading cause of human sickness and death, killing almost four million people every year. Nick News with Linda Ellerbee looks at this global crisis in Your Thirsty World, premiering Sunday, April 18, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT. In the half-hour special, kids in Honduras, Bangladesh, California and New Jersey explain the water problems where they live, and what, if anything, is being done to help.
“Safe, clean water is not only a basic human necessity,” says Ellerbee, “it’s a basic human right. Or ought to be. That’s what kids believe, and I agree.”
Alvaro, Elias, Nelli and Melvin are kids who live in Capuca, Honduras. They get up at 4 a.m., walking miles to haul pots of water for their family’s drinking and cooking. “If we don’t haul water, we don’t have water,” says Melvin. “And if we want to bathe, we walk three hours to a waterfall.”
Shirin and Masoum are kids who live in a housing slum in Dhaka, in Bangladesh. There it’s a different problem. Not distance, but cost. Every day they must stand in line for three hours to buy clean water. Their local pond is unsanitary. “We get so many diseases, like fever, coughing, diarrhea”, says Masoum. But buying water brings its own problems. Shirin says she must wait in line so long every day that “I am often late to class and the teacher gets mad at me.”
The causes of this water crisis are politics, poverty and pollution. And the problem is not limited to developing countries. Joanna and Jessica are kids from Central Valley, California where agriculture (fertilizer and pesticides) has contaminated their water. “We get a bill every month for water that we can’t use to drink,” says Jessica. “We have to buy bottled water so we can have safe drinking water.”
But bottled water has drawbacks. Plastic bottles hurt the environment, it takes more water to make a plastic bottle than actually goes inside of it, and the plastic used to make the bottles can also contaminate it. Which is why kids in Bergen Country, New Jersey, are focused on getting rid of plastic bottles used in their schools. Says Rachel, “The water crisis is a major problem that our generation is going to have to face, and this is our way of doing something to spread awareness.”
And there is hope. For instance, in Guanticara, another village in Honduras, a new and simple water system has given kids such as Delmi, Cristian and Donaldo the opportunity to have clean water, a sink and even a bathroom in their home.
Mike McCamon, chief community officer at Water.org, explains. “In communities like Guanticara that are up in the mountains, we’ll find a spring that’s higher in elevation above the community and what we’ll do is we’ll cap it…and then from there, there is a distribution network of pipes that go out to the actual homes themselves.”
“If there is no life without water, there is also no problem without a solution,” says Ellerbee. “And it’s clear that kids mean to be a part of the solution.”
“We may be different in where we live or what social class we’re in” says Andrew, a kid who lives in New Jersey, “But what really defines this crisis is that water is necessary for all life on this planet. We cannot live without it. I hope that idea dissolves the boundaries that keep us from coming together as humans to help defeat this water crisis.”
Nick News, produced by Lucky Duck Productions, is now in its 19th year and is the longest-running kids’ news show in television history. It has built its reputation on the respectful and direct way it speaks to kids about the important issues of the day. Nick News recently was honored with its first ever Edward R. Murrow Award for “Network News Documentary” for the documentary special, “Coming Home: When Parents Return from War,” marking the first-ever kids television program to receive the prestigious award. Over the years, Nick News has received more than 20 Emmy nominations and recently won its seventh Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Children’s Nonfiction Program for “Coming Home: When Parents Return from War.” Additional Emmy wins for Outstanding Children’s Programming include: “The Untouchable Kids of India” (2008); “Private Worlds: Kids and Autism” (2007); “Never Again: From the Holocaust to the Sudan” (2005); “Faces of Hope: The Kids of Afghanistan” (2002); “What Are You Staring At?” (1998). In addition, in 1994, the entire series won the Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Programming. Nick News has also received three Peabody Awards, including a personal award given to Ellerbee for explaining the impeachment of President Clinton to kids, as well as a Columbia duPont Award and more than a dozen Parents’ Choice Awards.
Nickelodeon, now in its 31st year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in almost 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 15 consecutive years.