March 8, 2012 – Dear Congress: Support Rural Women | Source – Lisa Schechtman – Global Policy TV - Lisa Schechtman is the head of policy and advocacy at WaterAid in America, the U.S. member of WaterAid International, the world’s largest NGO focused on providing safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education (WASH) services for poor communities in 27 countries around the world.
Imagine being a girl growing up in a village in sub-Saharan Africa. There’s a good chance there is no well in your village, and your nearest source of water is a river or a stream that is as many as three miles away over what might be rocky, isolated terrain.
The water may not be safe to drink, because your village probably also lacks sanitation facilities, but it’s your only choice.
So, instead of going to school, you spend at least 30 minutes a day, often longer, walking to the river, filling jerry cans, and struggling home with over 40 pounds on your head. You risk stumbling, animal attacks, sexual assault. At last you get home, and, while you have water to drink, it makes you sick and leaves you caring for family members who are also sick. It doesn’t matter though: you have to do it all over again the next day—and every day after that.Sadly, this is not the only harm that comes from your basic need for water. Carrying heavy loads can lead to uterine prolapse
, a potentially serious and excruciating condition that may result in the inability to ever have children safely.If you or a family member is living with HIV/AIDS
, you need extra water to keep things clean and hopefully stave off infections that kill people with compromised immune systems. That means more trips to the river, more time away from school or work.