Skip to Main Content
27 February 2024

If I had a STEM superpower… Creating Fresh Water

Check out one of the runner-up essays, by Skyler Benatar, with the excellent idea of being able to create fresh water that is safe to drink!

Someone writing an essay

Imagine this…

You are stranded in an arid desert with nothing, no food, no hat, no sunscreen and most of all no water. Life without water would simply be impossible. While this is a very specific scenario and may not be an issue the majority of the globe will ever experience, the lack of fresh water is. For this reason, I would like to have the ability to not only create water but create fresh water that is safe to drink.

AI-generated image of a scientist working in water purification

As of February 2023, approximately 5.5 billion people could not access clean water. And as many of us know, Africa does not have much clean water. This is especially close to my heart because Africa is my home. However, I recognise my privilege and am very grateful that I have access to clean water. To so many of us, water is something that we overlook, something that is common and is always expected to be there, but this is not the case for everyone.

There are so many benefits to this power. Firstly it will help to prevent water-borne illnesses. Every year around 3.575 million people die from a water-borne disease from a contaminated water source. Here in Zimbabwe, cholera has preyed on many of our citizens and I would like to see this come to an end in our communities. Another step to preventing disease is clean water to use when cooking and washing vegetables or even for bathing. Secondly, it will help in boosting agriculture and food production. Usually, villages and rural areas irrigate their crop with contaminated
water, this exposes the crop to bacteria and diseases that can be ingested by people. Therefore, access to clean water will eliminate this problem.

Lastly, it will drastically improve women’s health. In many developing communities, women walk around 6 kilometres to collect their daily water supply. I cannot imagine carrying 19 litres of water along that long path. Consequently, this causes health issues for women carrying unclean water. Overall, women will no longer need to take these cumbersome trips by providing clean water to the nations.

Lastly, we cannot talk about freshwater without speaking about the pollution of it. The Cree Indian Proverb speaks to this; “only when the last tree has died and the last river poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.” This proverb speaks so much to the fact the human race is so selfish, and only once all our water has been contaminated only then will we realise that we cannot drink money. Did you know that over 80% of wastewater from our activities ends up in rivers? Furthermore, about 1,000 children a day suffer and die of diarrheal diseases because of the lack of hygiene. From the look of these statistics, my power will be very much needed.

In conclusion, after having written this essay, I have become more aware of how truly lucky I am to have access to fresh water. We all need to open our eyes to this terrible situation as time is crucial. I know that if I was blessed enough to be offered the opportunity to choose a STEM superpower, this would definitely be my choice.

Inspiring STEM superpowers

If you found this essay inspiring, you should check out the winning submission from Rudra in India. He writes about “Empathy-Infused Biotechnology”: understanding people’s wants and needs while using cutting-edge biotechnology to develop ground-breaking solutions that improve lives across the world.

Read Rudra's entry
Back to Top