"Water management is a key factor in the global battle to remove the scourge of extreme poverty and to build secure and prosperous lives for hundreds of millions of people in the developing world." - World Health Organization, 2007
Water is life and we live on a water planet, though it doesn’t appear that way in the many places we call home. With the twin problems of desertification and commdification escalating, water is becoming more and more of a scarce resource. One area hit especially hard is sub-Saharan Africa where the weight of this burden disproportionately affects women and affects the family at large. It is estimated that women in sub-Saharan Africa collectively spend about 40 billion hours a year collecting water.
There is a direct connection between inadequate access to water and illness. The difficulties of the long and ardous walks that must be made by women to procure water is componded by the weight of the water on their shoulders. They are vulnerable to attacks or fatigue. Even after the journey is over, another is soon on its way. And for all the effort, the water may easily be polluted.
Inadequate access to water means fewer safe options. It means there’s less water available for hygiene and sanitation. It means drinking polluted water, even when the risk of death or disease is high.
This is a major issue that goes beyond Sub-Saharan Africa. It affects hundreds of millions of people living around the world who do not have access to safe and local water supplies. But these deaths and struggles are easily avoidable with the right amount of action and support. A study conducted by Stanford University found that reducing the amount of time spent walking by just fifteen minutes can reduce the illnesses of children significantly.
Time is the most valuable currency and it is spilled away. Every day, individuals spend 3-10 hours carrying water. This adds up to billions of hours a year of useful energy that evaporate from the world. This time spent walking for water is time that’s stolen from the community, from the family, and from the individual. Less time spent worrying about obtaining necessities would mean more time spent working towards greater fulfillments of life. It means time spent caring for children, pursuing education or employment. Time is key to breaking the cycle that keeps people in poverty. We can start to make this better today, and be a “ripple” of change.
- Write to your member of congress for support on this global water crises, only through pressure from the public comes the push for change: http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1747&ea.campaign.id=13493
- You can also make donations that will directly fund water projects around the globe: http://www.charitywater.org/projects/map/
- Learn more about this issue, because it begins with awareness: http://www.unwomen.org/how-we-work/csw/csw-56/facts-and-figures/
Chris Daly is the Promotions Intern at Earth Action. After high school his passion for social justice began with the two gap years he took before college. He worked for the AmeriCorps program City Year in Boston and New York City where he did community organizing and civic engagement work. It was this work that made him realize this was what he wanted to do with his life but felt limited without furthering his education. His focus is on Latin American studies, anthropology, and human rights work while also enjoying interests including bicycling, blacksmithing, street art, and cooking.