When you live in a developed country where clean, potable water comes out of the tap whenever you want, it’s easy to take a luxury like clean water for granted. In many parts of the world people must carry water over long distances. Over one billion people currently do not have access to clean drinking water. Efforts are being made to help support the people in those countries.
Who is Carrying Water?
Half of all rural households in Africa do not have easy access to potable water. In places like Ethiopia, carrying water for the family is primarily the job of the women and children, who must often be carrying water on their heads and shoulders in large jugs that can cause shoulder and back injuries over time. Families may travel miles to retrieve river water that may not be suitable for consumption. Then they carry the water–enough to drink, cook, and wash with–back. Some villages have hand pumps, but these may only work intermittently and are difficult to fix once broken. Sometimes private water carriers bring water to homes, but this service charges a fee that many people cannot afford.
How are These People Being Helped?
Many charitable organizations and non-profits devote money and resources to helping people who do not have easy access to drinking water. These include UNICEF, WaterAid, Charity: Water, World Concern, The Water Project, Global Water, Operation Hydros and our friends at water.org .
Some of the projects involve services like digging wells and establishing water pumps, or building spring protection systems, rainwater catchment, and biosand filters, or rehabilitating previous water systems that are no longer in good repair.
How is Water Transported Around the World?
Technological advances are being made for communities that still rely on carrying water from the source to help make that job easier. One of these advances is the Q Drum, a rolling barrel that is filled and then pulled along with a cord. The Q Drum has been used successfully in Africa, and was recently used during the cholera outbreak in Haiti. Another successful advance is the “Pumpkin,” a device that is worn like a shoulder bag and can carry up to 15 liters of water. The tubes in this device also act as a filter.
What is the Best Way to Help People Gain Access to Water?
The best solution to the problem of carrying water varies, depending on one’s location. One must take into account variables like climate and geography. In some communities, a good solution is providing a working hand pump. In others, a good solution is providing a way to collect rainwater and keep it from sinking into the ground. Traditions die hard, and some families insist upon continuing to travel long distances for water. In these cases, a device that eases the task of carrying water will be the most helpful.
If you want to make a huge difference in others’ lives, you can get involved. Volunteer with or donate to a charity that helps provide clean drinking water to communities in need.