Where are the sisters?Lack of access to clean water seriously diminishes opportunities for women, and girls in the developing world.
In just one day, more than 200 million hours of women’s time is consumed for the most basic of human needs – collecting water for domestic use. This lost productivity is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at WalMart, UPS, McDonald’s, IBM, Target, and Kroger.
This in itself is a sorry commercial fact and certainly a diminution of human rights, but the more serious life and death side is that this water is very often contaminated.
While the water crisis largely goes unnoticed, it is the everyday reality for women in much of the rest of the world, including Africa, South Asia and Central America. “The water crisis isn’t just a world crisis, it’s a women’s crisis.”
That’s why we’re walking
Women can do nothing
Women can aspire to nothing
Women can achieve nothing
If they spend so much of their lives locating and carrying, what we might loosely call water.
In most developed nations, we take access to safe water for granted. But this wasn’t always the case. A little more than 100 years ago, New York, London and Paris were centres of infectious disease. Child death rates were as high then as they are now in much of Sub-Saharan Africa. It was sweeping reforms in water and sanitation that enabled human progress to leap forward. It should come as no surprise that in 2007, a poll by the British Medical Journal found that clean water and sanitation comprised the most important medical advancement since 1840.
The health and economic impacts of today’s global water crisis are staggering.
More than 3.5 million people die each year from water-related disease; 84 percent are children. Nearly all deaths, 98 percent, occur in the developing world.
Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours!.
Millions of women and children spend several hours each day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources. This is time not spent working at an income-generating job, caring for family members, or attending school.
443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related illness.
Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.
Children in poor environments often carry 1,000 parasitic worms in their bodies at any time.
1.4 million children die as a result of diarrhoea each year.
90% of all deaths caused by diarrheal diseases are children under 5 years of age, mostly in developing countries.
It even makes economic sense to invest in clean water. If we look at the dreaded statistics on the bottom line, on average, every dollar invested in water and sanitation provides an economic return of eight dollars. An investment of US$11.3 billion per year is needed to meet the drinking water and sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals, yielding a total payback for US$ 84 billion a year.
Other estimated economic benefits of investing in drinking-water and sanitation are
272 million school attendance days a year and 1.5 billion healthy days for children under five years of age
It is past time for women help other women, so let’s, at least show we care, by walking, the H2O walk, on World Water Day, March 22