Earlier this year, I wrote a post called Why Can’t Periods be Private? It was inspired by a couple of tweets I read about how girls are forced to give up school because there aren’t facilities for menstruation. I wrote that I wanted to do something about it, but first I had to learn about it and, wow, is there so much to learn.
The first thing I learned is that sanitation is a huge issue:
Over 768 million people in the world do not have access to clean, safe water
Around 2.5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation
443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related illness
More people in the world own mobile phones than have access to a toilet
The average distance a woman or child walks to collect water is 6km
Diseases attributable to dirty water and poor sanitation currently result in the deaths of more children globally that AIDS, malaria and measles combined
And it is a gendered issue:
Women and girls are most often the primary users, providers and managers of water in their households and are the guardians of household hygiene. If a water system falls into disrepair, women are the ones forced to travel long distances over many hours to meet their families’ water needs.
Conversely, women and girls benefit most when services are improved. In eastern Uganda research found that women spend an average of 660 hours per year collecting water for their households, which represents two full months of labor. Cumulatively, one estimate suggests that some 40 billion hours a year, are spent collecting water in sub-Saharan Africa – equal to a year’s labor for the entire workforce of France (UNDP, 2006).
Sanitation and hygiene improvements are often low on the list of family investments, and women and girls suffer more indignity as a result. Their privacy and security are partly determined by ease of access to, and location of sanitation facilities. Children especially, have needs and concerns that should be taken into account when creating sanitation interventions to be used by them. In primary schools, toilets are often inadequate to serve the needs of girls, resulting in non-attendance during menses. Conversely, school enrolment and retention of girls, increases where there are water and sanitation services.
I still want to do something. I still don’t know exactly what. But this blog post is part of a campaign by international water aid charity, Just a Drop, to raise awareness of the vital work they carry out in developing countries around the world – providing clean, safe water to those who need it most. In addition, H2WOW is sponsoring every ‘share’, ‘like’, ‘tweet’ and ‘comment’, so please share this post and we can raise some money, at least.
Tomorrow’s bloghop stop is http://mumsdotravel.com/ a blog by Gretta Schifano, a freelance writer and blogger specialising in family travel.
For more information on the charity, please visit: www.justadrop.org