Clean water isn’t just a matter of life and death. It’s not just about thirst, hunger and sanitation. It’s about opportunity. Without access to clean water, the world’s poorest people will stay poor.
In many countries, women are responsible for finding and fetching water for their families. All the water they need for drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning. They walk miles, carry heavy burdens, wait for hours and pay exorbitant prices. The work is back-breaking and all-consuming. Often the water is contaminated, even deadly. In these instances, they face an impossible choice – certain death without water or possible death from illness.
Once they are old enough, girls join this effort. They spend countless hours trying to provide this basic life necessity.
Women also struggle most from the lack of adequate sanitation, the often unspoken part of the water and sanitation crisis. The sanitation crisis for women can be summed up in one word: ‘dignity.’ Around the world, fewer than one person in three has access to a toilet. In many countries, it is not acceptable for a woman to relieve herself during the day. They wait hours for nightfall, just to have privacy. This impacts health and puts their safety at risk. About half of all girls worldwide attend schools without toilets. The lack of privacy causes many girls to drop out when they reach puberty.
The dual aspects of the water crisis – lack of water and of sanitation – lock women in a cycle of poverty. They cannot attend school; they cannot earn an income.
- Women and children spend 125 million hours each day collecting water.
- Women and girls living without a toilet spend 266 million hours each day finding a place to go.
- Women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection.
- Women and girls often spend up to 6 hours each day collecting water.
- In Africa and Asia, women and children walk an average of 3.7 miles a day just to collect water.
- Reductions in time spent collecting water have been found to increase school attendance.
- a of which are water-related.
- Involving women can make water projects 6 to 7 times more effective.
How can we help? adra.org
More information: www.unwater.org