Water is essential to life, and having access to safe, affordable, and accessible water is fundamental to the quality of life of people. This semester in Dr. Abegunde’s A263 Course: Contemporary Social Issues in the African American Community, we learned about the role of water as a social issue in African American communities. When learning about the numerous aspects of life that are impacted by water and the quality of water, we have become more informed and conscious users of water. Learning about historical barriers to water and discriminatory practices gives us a more profound understanding of America’s history, and a direction for where we can improve in the future.
The United Nations states that access to safe, affordable, and accessible water is a human right (“Human rights to water and sanitation: UN-water”, n.d.). The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the basic structure in the US to regulate water cleanliness with pollution control and national water quality criteria recommendations (Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.). However, the Environmental Integrity Project reports that after 50 years of the enactment of the Clean Water Act, many of those outlined promises were unfulfilled (Kelderman et al., 2022).
Real Life Example — Flint, Michigan
Flint is a city where we’ve seen the shocking and disastrous effects of unclean water, and discriminatory practices impacting the livelihoods of pre-dominantly Black and African American communities. On April 16th, 2014, Flint’s water supply was changed from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Two weeks after the switch, Flint residents voiced their concerns about the quality of the water, “from its foul smell and brown color” (O'Donnell, 2020). But it took 19 months for any action to be taken to address the contaminated water.
Environmental racism is when marginalized communities — primarily people of color and those of low socioeconomic groups — “are faced with a disproportionate number of hazards, such as environmental pollution and foul odors that lower the quality of life” (O’Donnell, 2020). This comes from a history of residential segregation in the US that was enforced with the intention of denying black populations access to housing, governmental services, funding and infrastructure improvements (O'Donnell, 2020).
Young people drive the future. We want to create an approachable and engaging way to learn about water insecurity and how it historically impacts Black and African American communities in the US. In our game, we want to create something that’s both engaging and informative. Our target audience are young children ages 10-15 years old. We want to direct our attention to this age group because they are at a time where they are questioning the things around them, and are able to comprehend more in-depth information. Our goal is to create an interactive game that teaches the importance of water, and brings awareness to factors that impact access to water.
For this project, we used game development software to create the game. The user uses their arrow keys to navigate the desert environment. In our game demo, we show that the player explores the space around them and finds “water gems.” The goal of the game is to collect all 3 water gems to win.
The informational side of it is that when they are playing, they learn about the different barriers of water that impact marginalized communities particularly African American Communities. We explain the importance of water in human well-being and as an essential element of life. Through explaining the different barriers to water — accessibility, cleanliness, and affordability — we show how there are historically discriminatory roots that make it more difficult for some communities to access water. This demo demonstrates the basic outline of our game. We hope to further develop it to include various educational videos and more factors that impact access to water.
Water Journey Demo
Water is extremely important for our bodies and the environment. As members of society, we need policies that support equal access to clean water across all communties. To help bridge these differences, we need diversity in government, at a local, state, and federal level. We need to ensure that policies surrounding basic human needs are enforced to promote equality and equity. We encourage individuals to volunteer and assist communities that don't feel like they have a voice. We encourage people to stand up and fight the injustice.
Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Summary of the Clean Water Act. EPA. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://www.epa.gov/laws- regulations/summary-clean-water-act.
Kelderman, K., Phillips, A., Pelton, T., & Schaeffer, E. (2022, March 17). The Clean Water Act at 50. Environmental Integrity Project. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from https://environmentalintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/CWA@50-report-EMBARGOED-3.17.22.pdf
Human rights to water and sanitation: UN-water. United Nations. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://www.unwater.org/water-facts/human-rights-water-and-sanitation
O'Donnell, K. (2020, August 17). The Flint Water Crisis. ArcGIS StoryMaps. Retrieved December 3, 2022, from https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/2b3c891c17a944e49259811896af70a0
Water Science School. (2019, May 22). The water in you: Water and the human body completed. The Water in You: Water and the Human Body | U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved December 3, 2022, from https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body#overview
This application uses Open Source components. You can find their open source projects along with the license information below. We acknowledge and are grateful to these developers for their contributions to open source.
Project link: https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/3d/environments/landscapes/polydesert-107196
Copyright: Copyright © 2022 Unity Technologies
License: Standard Unity Asset Store EULA (https://unity.com/legal/as-terms)
Water Journey © 2022 by Molly Cai and Twwinkle Shah is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0