DAVAO CITY – Environment advocates here pointed out that while the ice bucket challenge in support of the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research has raised awareness on the disease, it has wasted lots of water.
Water consumption for the campaign on ALS— an incurable neuro-degenerative disorder that causes paralysis and eventually death–has already reached some six million gallons.
Journalist Jason Ruiz from the Long Beach Post in California computed the figures using five gallons of water per 1.2 million participants to the challenge who shared their videos
One of those critical of the campaign was Sister Noemi Degala of the congregation (Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary) SMSM, and executive secretary of the Sisters’ Association in Mindanao, who said those who take the challenge should be reminded that there are places where water scarcity is a big issue.
Degala said that while she empathizes with the cause for finding a cure for ALS, she also urged them to think also of people in Africa.
“Think of the buckets you waste, how many families would line up to drink for that,” she said.
One of the places is Burundi, a country in central Africa sandwiched between Rwanda and Congo, where she spent three years in her mission work in the last decade.
For a country where water can only be found in 8% of its land area, Degala said the main source of water for some eight million Burundi people comes from rain.
But when the occasional heat wave comes to Burundi where it leaves the country without rain for three to six days, Degala said “people would go crazy.”
Mary Ann Fuertes, executive director of Interface Development Interventions, shared the same concern, as her group is making headway to make the city implement a rainwater catchbasin practice to save rainwater for household use.
“It’s a waste of precious freshwater. As of now in just three months more than a million people are taking the challenge. Just imagine how many liters of precious water are being wasted. So many families could be supplied with such amount of water, ” said Fuertes.
Hollywood actor Matt Damon joined this campaign but used toilet water to raise awareness of his other advocacy that 800 million people around the world are suffering from lack of access to clean and safe water.
The ALS Association, who is the beneficiary of the bucket challenge, has gathered more than $90-million in donations, which they will spend mostly on education and research.
The ice bucket campaign has gone viral through social media such as Facebook and YouTube. And with the Filipinos’ active use of such social media, the country is ranked eighth by Facebook with the most participants for the challenge.
Not only celebrities in the country took part in the challenge, but also government officials including Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Bureau of Internal Revenue commissioner Kim Henares and former Governor Chavit Singson among others. Each donated $100 for the ALS Association.
In Davao City, Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte took part in the challenge. He nominated his sister former mayor Sara Duterte, but she declined saying she would prefer donating for the cause without going through the ordeal.
Their father, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was also nominated by de Lima, a critic of the mayor’s stance in crime-fighting. But the elder Duterte declined citing he just came out of intensive care and would review the mechanics of the challenge.
Degala, however, doubted the intention of some leaders who joined the challenge for the attention.
“They are only after the media mileage,” she scoffed.(davaotoday.com)