What About Water: 5 Questions From Moms Around the World

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March 22, 2013

water

Where can I find it?

Girls and women in Africa walk an average of four miles just to collect water.* Perhaps Hamundi, a mother of four walks 20 minutes to find her nearest water source, this mud-filled hand-dug well.  Each day she wakes up before dawn to make sure she can get to the water before others use it all.

Is it safe for my family?

Today 783 million people—one person in nine—still collect water from a contaminated source. In fact, in Bangladesh arsenic is commonly found in the water; according to a WHO study, it’s estimated 35 to 75 million people in Bangladesh are at risk of drinking water contaminated with arsenic. In this village Gita Rani watches as her 10-year-old drinks water from the one safe well in the village.  The rest have all been found to contain arsenic.

Who else is using it?

In many areas of the world, the one water source available is used by animals, bathers, and those washing clothes or dishes. That can lead to deadly parasites and sickness for children.  In fact, half of the chronic malnutrition in children around the world isn’t because these children lack food. Instead, it is a result of repeated diarrheal diseases and parasites. This dirty pond in Ethiopia was the only source of water for many families and for animals. Even if the water comes from a protected source, the large number of users often means long lines at the pump.

What’s more important, water or an education?

As the primary person in the household to help gather water, girls are often the hardest hit by lack of clean water. Water, health and hygiene interventions can reduce school absenteeism by half or more among girl students — and increase the number of girls enrolled in school by one-third. This picture shows a student in the Solomon Islands enjoying clean water.

What could I do if only I had enough water?

It’s not just education that improves when there’s water.  Water can also mean a vegetable garden to support the family, lower healthcare costs and more time for mothers to become entrepreneurs. An investment in water, sanitation and hygiene produces an 8:1 economic return in target communities. And there are many different ways to make that happen.  Here a borehole brought in by World Vision brings joy to this community in Niger.

In Zimbabwe a P&G Purifier of Water makes sure the water is clean for this young baby.

And in the Philippines, water testing allows a very happy 18-month old Ramiel to play in the water, by giving his mother reassurance that it’s safe.

*All figures taken from World Health Organization and UNICEF

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