It was the conversation that I had with my brother that motivated me to write this post. My brother, a fourteen-year-old average teenager, is notorious for taking long showers. Lasting approximately forty-five minutes to an hour, it was the constant banging on the bathroom door that triggered me to say enough is enough.
Imagine if getting a drink of water or simply taking a shower was not as simple as turning on your tap or shower faucet. Imagine going through your day without access to clean and safe water in your home for drinking, cooking, washing or bathing whenever you need it (Caruso, 2017). Imagine yourself trekking miles to a water source to only find dirty and polluted water and bringing it home to your family. Now, imagine doing this tedious task every single day for six hours with no time for anything else.
By turning on the tap or simply asking for a glass of water, we are accustomed to having water right at our fingertips. Living in North America, it is difficult for us to truly imagine what our life would be like if we did not have access to water (Damon, 2018). Unfortunately, this is the reality for the millions of people who do not have access to clean and safe water. According to Matt Damon (2018), co-founder of Water.org, approximately 663 million people in developing countries do not live near a reliable, clean water source or have access to sanitary washing facilities. Many spend up to six hours every single day to collect dirty and polluted water; often increasing their risk of contracting illnesses and deadly diseases.
Traditionally, women and young girls, as young as seven-years of age, begin their morning by trekking to their nearest water source. Nearest does not mean nearest. Nearest means five-kilometres or three-and-a-half-miles. Having to do this six hours a day, time is often lost with no room for an education. To simply collect water for drinking, bathing, cooking, and other household needs, millions of women and girls spend more time travelling to water sources, waiting in line, and carrying heavy loads (Caruso, 2017), than they do at home and school. Due to the time spent on collecting water, many young girls often lose the opportunity to go to school and obtain a proper education. For many of them, their reality is a never ending cycle.
Back in Kenya, I had the opportunity to participate in a water walk with the local Mamas. It was one of the most crucial, exhausting yet humbling experience I’ve had on the trip. Walking to the water source alone was not a well easy task. The group and I had to trek through steep and uneven terrains before reaching the river. Given that the river was dirty, we were not allowed to go near the water to fill our jerry cans. As such, the group and I had to wait patiently for the Mamas to fill them for us. Once everyone had a water-filled jerry can, we began trekking back to the Mamas’ home.
Carrying water in a 50-pound jerry can is not an easy task, especially when you are trekking through uneven terrains. I will admit, I underestimated my ability and wanted to quit mid-way. Although I had my friend Marcella switch off with me, women and girls do this every day with no partner to switch off with them. Water is heavy, yet I find it astounding how women and girls carry these 50-pound jerry cans up to four times a day. Carrying such loads over long distances can result in strained backs, shoulders, necks and other related injuries, as indicated by Caruso (2017). The burden is even heavier for women who are pregnant or are also carrying small children (Caruso, 2017).
Moreover, walking to these water sources can be dangerous. According to Caruso (2017), women and girls can face conflict at water points and risk physical and sexual assault (Caruso, 2017). Additionally, many of these dangers also arise when women do not have the access to safe, clean, and sanitary facilities.
Access to safe and clean water, as well as sanitary facilities, can protect lives and prevent families from contracting illnesses and deadly diseases. It can turn a cycle of poverty into a cycle of potential; allowing girls to obtain a proper education and families to lift themselves out of poverty. Clean water has the power to turn time spent into time saved. In accordance with Damon’s (2018) vision, every human being deserves to define their own future and clean water makes that possible (Damon, 2018). Clean water is not a luxury, it is a basic human right.
To conclude this post, I will be sharing few tips on how to minimize your water usage and consumption.
- Keep your showers short or take staggering showers. You can also use a shower bucket — Asian household over here!
- Turn off the tap while you are brushing your teeth.
- Turn off the tap while washing your hands
- Turn off the tap while doing the dishes.
- Do not run the dishwasher or the washer machine until it is full and properly place your dishes in the dishwasher.
- Keep an eye on any leaks and fix them!
- Re-use pasta or rice water to water your plants!
In all, I hope this post somewhat gave you a different perspective on water. For more information, please visit Water.org
Anon. n.d. “Water Charity For Safe Water & Sanitation.” Water.org. Retrieved February 10, 2018 (https://water.org/).
Anon. n.d. “Water: Clean Water and Sanitation.” WE. Retrieved February 10, 2018 (https://www.we.org/we-villages/water/).
Bethany Caruso. 2018. “Women still carry most of the world’s water.” The Conversation. Retrieved February 10, 2018 (https://theconversation.com/women-still-carry-most-of-the-worlds-water-81054).