700 million people do not have access to clean drinking water. 2.4 billion lack access to a toilet. This is a crisis. A global water and sanitation crisis. It affects billions of people in dire situations all over the world: men, women and children. However, it is mostly a women’s issue because the greatest impact is on women. There are some reasons why.
The first is time; the burden of time of women and girls collecting water and bringing it home. This happens in the majority of households in developing countries. Hours a day, miles a day, they go to places like creeks and collect enough water for their family’s survival. They even bring their babies and daughters, so they can fill their jerry cans too. It holds twenty liters. Not only is that heavy, but you must walk for miles till you reach your place of living.
Picture borrowed from Inhabitat.com
On the handout “The Importance of Water”, ten-year-old Zambia tells her story about waking up before sunrise to fetch water for her sister, grandmother and herself. She dreams about going to school and becoming a doctor which has really changed my perspective on life for the better. It made me appreciate the fact that I can attend school every day and drink clean water from the sink without being afraid of my family members to get sick of various diseases.
In addition, lack of toilets and water at school puts girls’ education at risk.
Picture borrowed from Factsanddetails.com
If my daughter had to walk for water day in and day out, I can’t imagine what this would do to her schooling. Nevertheless, carrying water is not the only thing that affects a female’s child learning. Most schools in developing countries don’t have access to reliable water or decent toilets. It means that girls, when they hit puberty, often drop out of school, because there is no place they can change pads. In several countries, it is unacceptable for women to relive themselves during the daytime. Thus, they are forced to wait until dark in fear of getting raped.
2030 is an important year. That is the year that 193 member states of the world have agreed upon to get water and toilets for everyone according to the United Nations General Assembly.
To help solve the global water and sanitation crisis is to share the virtues of toilets and taps and how they improve the quality of life, save life’s and help create livelihoods. I want to fast-forward to the future when no one has to die of bad water.
“The Importance of Water” handout.