Turning the tide — World Water Day 2020

By  and Michael Jacobs | 3 minute read | March 22, 2020

Try to imagine a world without clean water. It’s uncomfortable at best, terrifying at worst because we must have water to live and to exist.

Yet, despite the apparent ease in many parts of the world of getting fresh and potable water from a faucet, water for human use is not an infinite resource.

According to the United Nations and World Wildlife Fund, billions of people around the world already lack safe water, sanitation and handwashing facilities. Clean water shortages are not a future threat, for the next generations to solve. The matter deserves our focus and action today.

In honor of World Water Day, marked each year by the United Nations on 22 March since 1993, we reflect on how IBMers are working towards water sustainability.

Here are some ideas on how you can create, learn and act (more details below):

Water is the most essential ingredient to life on this planet. On World Water Day, and every day, we invite everyone to be an advocate for something that unites us all: the need for clean and available water.

Let’s work to turn the tide from a water crisis to a leap forward in water sustainability.

How you can help

First, answer the call and join

At the 2019 Call for Code, an IBM team from Canada conceived the top idea among IBMer participants. Their submission, called Liquid Prep, uses an IoT soil humidity sensor and weather data to deliver insights via a cloud-hosted mobile app.The solution is designed to help small farms know when to water crops in climate distressed areas.

This week, through the IBM Code and Response initiative, IBM is using a virtual workshop to bring together the Liquid Prep team, experts in design and technology, as well as representatives of environmental and development organizations to figure how to put the solution into the hands of farmers.

This year’s Call for Code continues with a dual focus on climate change, emphasizing water sustainability, energy sustainability and disaster resiliency, as well as COVID-19.

Anyone can join the 2020 Call for Code to take action addressing water sustainability. There’s room for people from different backgrounds other than coding, and opportunities to contribute from home.

The Liquid Prep team mentioned that creating a video about their idea was a big challenge; something that marketers, writers, designers and sellers could absolutely help with.


Second, understand freshwater scarcity

The Weather Company, an IBM Business, created Forecast: Change, an initiative to help combat freshwater scarcity in communities around the world.

Launched last year, visitors toThe Weather Channel app and weather.com were able to understand their personal water footprint. For example, it can take 1,800 gallons or more of fresh water to make a new pair of jeans—which is enough water to supply a family of four for months.

The full scope of the effort, including IBM contributions to the not-for profit organizations charity: water and The Nature Conservancy, resulted in unlocking 100 million liters of clean water for 16,000 people in Cambodia and Niger.

Watch this short video that succinctly summarizes how we need water for everything “from drinking and bathing to farming and power,” and the ways climate change creates further challenges.


Third, put your computing power to work

Volunteers around the world are part of IBM’s World Community Grid, which allows anyone with a computer and an internet connection to donate computing power to help tackle scientific research projects that benefit humanity, such as the Africa Rainfall Project.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 95 percent of agriculture depends on rainfall, which makes accurate weather forecasts absolutely crucial. However, because rainfall in the area is often localized, it’s difficult to forecast accurately with satellite data, which show larger weather patterns.

The Africa Rainfall Project on the World Community Grid will use data from The Weather Company and other sources to improve rainfall modeling to help farmers in sub-Saharan Africa successfully raise their crops.


For more about World Water Day, visit worldwaterday.org

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