A global initiative to find solutions, as advocates for the world’s water carriers, to the problems we face in supplying clean water to everyone.
"Every woman counts, every second counts” is a motto I, as a water sanitation engineer, always keep with me when I’m deployed to emergencies across the globe.
At every stage in life, the absence of safe water robs women of opportunity and even life itself. Improving women's access to water can free up to hundreds of hours annually that they can instead devote to earning a living, getting time back for themselves, and strengthening families and communities.
When you see a community that has recently been provided clean water, you see a community changed. You can see the immediate effect of clean water on all aspects of society. This is especially true for women and girls, who are affected the most when it isn't available.
Access to and use of water is a key issue which we address when supporting rural women to realize joint economic initiatives to improve the livelihoods of their families.
OUR ARGUMENTS FOR THE INITIATIVE
A daily struggle for water is one of the terrible burdens of poverty, especially for women and girls who spend endless hours fetching water over long distances. Many people around the globe including women, children, the elderly, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities have lower levels of access to safe drinking water, hygiene or sanitation facilities than other groups.
- Girls must carry twice the water of boys
Girls, below the age of 15 years are twice as likely as boys of the same age, to have collecting water as their main household responsibility. In 12% of households children harbor the primary responsibility for collecting the water.
According to UN Gender and Water for Life, in Benin, girls ages 6-14 spend an average of one hour a day collecting water compared with 25 minutes for their brothers. In Malawi, there are large variations in the amount of time allocated for water collection based on seasonal factors, but women consistently spend four to five times longer than men on this task. In Tanzania, a survey found school attendance to be 12 per cent higher for girls in homes located 15 minutes or less from a water source than in homes one hour or more away. Attendance rates for boys appeared to be far less affected by distance from water sources.
- Sub-Saharan African women spend 40 billion hours collecting water
According to UN Gender and Water for Life, in sub-Saharan Africa women and girls in low-income countries spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water—the equivalent of a year’s worth of labour by the entire Work force in France. In Africa, 90% of the work of gathering water and wood, for the household and for food preparation, is done by women. Providing access to clean water close to the home can dramatically reduce women’s workloads, and free up time for other economic activities. For their daughters, this time can be used to attend school.
- 2.5 billion people lack adequate sanitation
According to Water Aid, ending the global sanitation crisis is one of the most urgent developmental challenges of the 21st century. By the end of 2011 there were 2.5 billion people, over one third of the world’s population, living without safe, adequate sanitation and hygiene. The lack of access to this essential service holds back social and economic development through its negative impacts on health, education and livelihoods. It is the principal cause of diarrhoea, the second biggest killer of children worldwide, and it contributes significantly to malnutrition, stunting and the overall global burden of disease.
- Global demand for water is growing fast
At the current rate of economic and population growth, by 2030, global water requirements could grow from today’s 4,500 billion cubic meters to 6,900 billion cubic meters.
- 70% of water is for agriculture
Seventy percent of the world’s water use is in agriculture—with the implication that farming plays a very important role in ensuring water is available for all uses.
"Lack of potable water and sanitation is also just as much of a women’s issue." -- Matt Damon and Gary White of water.org.
A Central Asia Water Future Forum and Expo will take place September 19, 2016 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.