Can you rise to the 4Liters Challenge ?


A new viral campaign aims to make you use no more than 4 litres of water a day, to raise awareness on water scarcity, and money to fund clean water projects. Are you in?


Over the past few weeks, one of the most successful viral campaigns on the social media has raised over a hundred million dollars for research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The Ice Bucket Challenge, which encouraged people to dump a bucket of iced water on their head and then post the video to social networks to promote awareness of the disease, has been taken on by countless participants: according to The New York Times, people shared more than 1.2 million videos on Facebook between June 1 and August 13, and mentioned the phenomenon more than 2.2 million times on Twitter between July 29 and August 17. But some critics objected, saying that “wasting” so much water was perhaps not the best way to go, when 2.5 billion people still have no access to clean water. This resonates with the recent emergence of a new kind of challenge: the 4Liters Challenge, which encourages people to reduce their water consumption, and pitch in for access to water projects.

Cutting our average consumption by a factor of 100…

According to the World Health Organisation, “a minimum of 7.5 litres per capita per day will meet the requirements of most people under most conditions. (…) 20 litres per capita per day should be assured to take care of basic hygiene needs and basic food hygiene. Laundry/bathing might require higher amounts (…)” As a matter of fact, it is generally considered that 50 litres a day should cover basic hydration, hygiene and laundry needs. The Western lifestyle uses much, much more: the average American uses about 400 litres of water per day at home, reports TreeHugger! In the meantime, Haitians (and 1 billion people throughout the world) have access to about 4 litres a day…

As informed as we are about the importance of saving water to protect the environment, it is impossible to understand what water scarcity really means if you have never experienced it. In other words, when there is plenty, it’s hard to imagine that it can run out – or that other people just don’t have any. The 4Liters Challenge thus aims to kill two birds with one stone: educating people on ways to cut our water consumption every day, and providing information on water scarcity while raising money to fund access to water programmes.

The campaign will start on 6 October and run for the entire month. It will come with a social network version (not available yet) where participants commit to using only 4 litres of water per day (either for a single day or several days), team up to challenge each other, and raise money to fund projects in South Sudan, Cameroon and New Mexico. Their experiences in dramatically cutting their water consumption will be documented on the social media too, using the hashtag #4Liters. Last year, 603 people lived on 4 litres of water and raised $17,437 to fund clean water projects. Will you be one of them this year?

Photo © AlenKadr via shutterstock

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