As a wife, mother of a toddler and a passionate advocate of sustainable living, I know just how important it is for my family to have a supply of clean water, and for all of us to use water wisely.

Access to water is a fundamental human need. But a staggering 1.2 billion people worldwide are still missing out.

Sadly, lack of water often affects women and girls more than men and boys. In many parts of countries such as Bangladesh, Jordan and Kazakhstan, there are no water services. Here, it's usually women and girls who have the chore of fetching water for cooking, washing and cleaning, and who suffer the indignities of poor sanitation.

Coca-Cola and UNDP join hands

So I love Every Drop Matters (EDM) because the program makes a real difference to people's lives, and particularly the lives of women and girls. In EDM, the United Nations Development Programme and The Coca-Cola Company work hand-in-hand to reduce the number of people who still don't have access to safe drinking water or proper sanitation, and to help communities manage water resources so that every drop truly counts.

Making every drop count in Jordan

Jordan is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. Ziyad Alawneh of EDM says that some households only get water once a week, and others only once a fortnight or even only once a month.

EDM projects in Irbid and Shwaneh Shamalyeh have helped revive traditional water harvesting. In the Azraq Highlands, households have put in measuring devices to track how much water they are using. These projects conserve precious water and make sure none is wasted.

In Kazakhstan

In Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, one in ten households has no running water and one person in four does not have a basic toilet.

An EDM project in Arshaly has brought clean drinking water to 30,000 people. The incidence of water-borne diseases is falling, and attendance at school is rising.

In Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, poorly maintained, dirty, and unhygienic school latrines discourage many girls from attending.

This has changed in 20 urban slum schools in Chandpur and Tangail, where EDM drilled wells, built separate toilets for girls and boys, and installed running water and waste disposal units. The new facilities have dramatically raised attendance, especially of girls, from less than 70 percent to 98 percent.

"We now feel comfortable at school." says Ms. Sabina Begum, a happy 13-year-old student. "Before, during our menstrual periods we had to stay at home. But now we do not have a problem. Our parents also feel relieved."

Using water wisely

Learning about the difference these projects make to people's lives makes me acutely conscious of my responsibility to use water wisely. My question to you is, "How will you use water today responsibly?" Please post a comment and tell us.

Aydan Olcer

Aydan Olcer is Group Corporate Affairs Manager, Coca-Cola Eurasia & Africa Group. Aydan thanks Ceyda Alpay of Every Drop Matters for her contributions.