Why Water Matters

logo_justadropEarlier 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.


Since my blog post in January, I’ve discovered Days for Girls  and Dignity! Period and we’ve all read about the Indian sanitary pad revolutionary, yes? But there’s so much more to learn.

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

3 thoughts on “Why Water Matters

  1. Thanks Keris for writing this blog post for the team here at Just a Drop and everyone we are supporting. I am just this morning reading a report which is pertinent to what you have said above – it has been sent through from one of the communities we have supported in Uganda where the head-teacher had this to say:

    “Before the project when it came to personal hygiene amongst the girls, they used to stay at home during their menstruation due to lack of wash-rooms and gender separate latrines.”

    Since the project (which has included the provision of clean, safe water, gender specific latrines, washing facilities and sanitation training) the number of girls attending is on the increase…

    Water (and sanitation) matters for many more reasons than might immediately come to mind.

    Thanks again for posting on this particular subject which is so important in the communities we support.

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