No clean water – an issue that's close to home

on
22 March 2018
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Water
Girls carry water away from a privately owned shallow well on the edge of Nyarugusu. This is the closest water source to Nyarugusu Dispensary, a 15-min drive away; the well runs low in the dry season and is subject to contamination in the rainy season. Nyarugusu, Tanzania, September 2017. WaterAid/Sam Vox

What’s it like to live without clean water close to home?

Recently, many people in the UK experienced this crisis when their water was cut off due to flooding. Some homes were without water for almost a week. But what if that were normal?  

How would you wash, cook, clean? How would you stop germs spreading? How would you flush the toilet? And most importantly, what would you drink?

Imagine if your only option was to get a bucket and walk to the nearest river or pond. You’d have to be careful not to slip on the riverbank, and you’d have to make sure you could carry the heavy bucket home without spilling that precious resource. Imagine, after all of that time and effort, the water you'd collected was dirty with insects floating in it.

Could you drink that water? Could you feed it to your family? 

For almost 850 million people across the world, this is a daily reality. That’s a lot of people having to prioritise water for drinking over water for washing. Students, particularly girls, missing school to collect water. Parents with no choice but to give their children dirty water that carries the risk of giving them life-limiting illnesses. 

So why are so many people – 1 in 9 – living without clean water close to home? It’s a mix of reasons: domestic water supply competing with agriculture or industry. Extreme weather. Political instability, conflict or people displacement. 

Most significantly, it’s because it’s just not a political priority.

A young Rohingya girl takes a water break on her way uphill to her family’s temporary shelter at the Kutupalong Camp in Cox's Bazar WaterAid/Al Shahriar Rupam
A young Rohingya girl takes a water break on her way uphill to her family’s temporary shelter at the Kutupalong Camp in Cox's Bazar

Today is World Water Day – a day to shine a light on this global water and sanitation crisis. 

Our latest report ‘The Water Gap’ shows the scale of the problem, listing the countries where people are struggling most for clean water close to home. It reveals that the number of people living without has gone up. Almost 200 million more than previously counted are living without life’s most essential requirement.

But there’s hope. Our report also highlights those countries that have made the most progress. At WaterAid, we know the impact of the water crisis. We also know the effect clean water has on a community – it creates a powerful ripple, saving lives and improving people’s health, education and livelihoods. 

It’s clear that governments need to make access to clean water a top priority. Today, we have a huge opportunity to come together and use our voices to highlight the state of the world's water. 
 
This World Water Day, we want you to join us in our call to world leaders to put clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene at the top of their agendas.

Bring the water issue close to home by sharing our content with your friends and family. Together, we can tackle the water crisis. 

Read the full report > 

Find out what people across the world are doing for World Water Day >