Kenna Op-Ed: It's Time for Action on the Clean Water Crisis

Kenna Op-Ed: It's Time for Action on the Clean Water Crisis

Kenna Op-Ed: It's Time for Action on the Clean Water Crisis

Kenna ( @okkenna) is a Grammy nominated singer-songwriter. He founded SUMMIT ON THE SUMMIT in 2010 to address the clean water crisis in the developing world.

As a musician, I often derive the inspiration for lyrics from the world around me. The ability to put our most intimate thoughts in text, and string these thoughts into song is an extraordinary outlet to help us cope with challenges we face in our daily lives. The solidarity from our loyal fans, who just by listening lighten our emotional load, help us to climb life's tallest mountains, knowing we are not alone.


But many people in this world do not have a global platform or even a chance to express hardships much greater than our own. SUMMIT ON THE SUMMIT, a cause adventure that engages luminaries and educators, in partnership with P&G, HP, Intel and KLM, is an ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania that aims to give a voice to the millions of people suffering in silence who have been impacted by the global clean water crisis.

With technology at our fingertips, it is easier than ever to connect millions of people around the world and rally support around a common cause. With new innovative and social technologies, SUMMIT ON THE SUMMIT gives people a unique opportunity to show solidarity with those in crisis and educate others to affect global change.

Did you know that water-related diseases are the leading cause of death in the world, taking the lives of 3.5 million people a year? We see the images of these "far off" places in ad campaigns, asking us to open our hearts and our wallets to help people in developing nations. It seems so very distant, until it hits closer to home. The reality is that there are millions who suffer without basic water and sanitation in America as well. Water is the seminal issue of our lifetime.

Kenna's 2007 hit "Say Goodbye to Love"

Where my father grew up in Ethiopia, waterborne illness was rampant, and much of his childhood was spent fighting diseases he contracted from unsafe drinking water. While coming to know this reality was discouraging, I never imagined the problem would still exist today. Water sanitization, something so basic most of us don't even acknowledge it except in times of crisis, is something 2.5 billion people globally live without, according to UNICEF.

It's a helpless feeling to look at a world covered more than 70% by water and realize that there is no way to get the earth's most abundant resource to the people who need it most. It was precisely this frustration that drove me to create SUMMIT ON THE SUMMIT in 2010. While I knew there were limits to what I could do to actually connect people to the clean water sources they so desperately need, I was certain there was something I could do educate people about the crisis. It is education and awareness that will ultimately create lasting change.

So I hope you will join us at and show your interest and support. Every time you engage in the mission, you'll be giving us the energy we need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you'll be helping the world understand how important clean water is for a healthy, sustainable future -- one in which everyone clearly sees hope and promise on the road ahead.


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