Water Scarcity - Water is an essential resource to sustain life, but it is also scarce. In fact, less than one percent (.004) of the world's fresh water supply is readily accessible for human use. That leaves 780 million people (1 out of every 9) living under the hardship of searching for water that might not be closeby. It seems impossible since our oceans, streams, and rivers are so vast and looking at earth it appears more blue than green. But in fact, if a bucket of water were to represent all the water in the world, then one tiny droplet on the tip of your finger would equate all the water that is actually there for all of us to use. And if you live in a dry place like Sub Saharan Africa, you've got the shortest end of the stick imaginable. Your community most likely lacks the infrastructure to help you get to groundwater. So you are going to have to do the only thing you can - spend countless hours visiting a river or lake, fetching the water you and your family need yourself.
Surface Water - "Freshwater" doesn't always look, taste, or smell as good as it's name makes it out to be. It certainly doesn't describe the same pristine water you and I get in a bottle or from the tap. When found on location, it's rarely ever clear, clean, or especially, safe. And it typically isn't found in flowing rivers or even trickling springs, but more like stagnant sources, like natural ponds or man-made holes. Because it's all the available water that there is, it's often used by more than just humans; your herd, local wildlife, even alligators and deadly snakes. And yet, for the people who need it most, this water must be collected as it serves multiple purposes. They'll have to use it for bath water, laundry water, dish water, for their crops, and, of course, for drinking too. And the pathogens - the bacteria, the viruses, and the chemicals that they're ingesting - they are going to lead to more deaths this year than any act of violence, including war.
The Weight of Water - The average roundtrip distance to collect water in Africa and South Asia is 6 km (3.7 miles) and one typically cannot gather all the water that they need in a single trip. A small family has to have, at the very least, 5 gallons every day for survival. That's a minumum daily load of roughly 40 pounds. Young girls, women, and children shoulder this responsibility. Nearly 3 hours of their day is spent carrying water on their head, back, or, if they are extremely lucky, tied to their bike. When carried by hand, they can easily burn 1,000 calories or more. And this is all happening in communities that are already poor and malnourished.
Limiting the Future - Collecting and carrying water robs women and children of their time (an estimated 40 billion hours in Africa alone each year). It limits their ability to gain knowledge and skills through education. Millions of girls do not attend school at all, or attend school with infrequency because they are bogged down with the chore of hauling water. Of all the primary school-aged girls worldwide who are not enrolled in school, 41% live in South Asia and 35% reside in Sub-Saharan Africa. Often times, mothers lose even countless more hours of productivity due to the ongoing need to care for sick children left at home. Ironically, roughly 90% of all illnesses these mothers are tending to occur from bacteria and pollutants actually in the water that they have no other choice but to bring home for their family to drink. Diseases like cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, typhoid, malaria, schistosomiasis can all be deadly diseases in developing nations.Children under age five are most often the victims of water-related deaths because their immune systems are not as developed. Lack of sanitaion limits women and girls too. Inadequate access to safe, hygienic, and private sanitation facilities is a source of shame, physical discomfort and insecurity for millions of women and girls across the world. So much so, that many girls drop out of school once they reach puberty.