How much is the world’s most productive river worth? Here’s how experts estimate the value of nature: Southeast Asia’s Mekong may be the most important river in the world. Known as the “mother of waters,” it is home to the world’s largest inland fishery, and the huge amounts of sediments it transports feed some of the planet’s most fertile farmlands. Tens of millions of people depend on it for their livelihoods.
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The association between WASH services and gendered vulnerability to violence in rural locales and urban slums in developing countries has received the most study, but women everywhere are vulnerable when they lack access to, or are accessing, WASH services. All of which leaves one asking why global leaders focus on the possibility of future water-related conflict rather than respond to the very real crisis conditions in which women and girls exist now?
We live on a water planet. As the writer Arthur C. Clark noted, if we didn’t happen to be land-dwelling creatures, we would call our planet Ocean, rather than Earth. And for humans, fresh water is critical for life, health, our economies, and vibrant ecosystems. The vast majority of water on the planet—more than 97 percent—is salt water, in our oceans.