This policy brief, prepared by the UN Interagency Task Force on Gender and Water, provides an excellent overview of the issues of clean water and sanitation. You will find information about the involvement of women in water and sanitation management in developing countries The document also lists the key issues that need to be addressed for a “gendered” approach to water resource management and makes recommendations for action. The entire policy brief is available for review at www.africanwellfund.org/unwaterdocument.pdf
Though we use it constantly, we think very little about water and its place in our lives. Here are some water facts to ponder:
• More than half of Africa's people lack access to safe drinking water (UN)
• Of all the renewable water available in Africa each year, only 4% is used -- because most Africans lack the wells, canals, pumps, reservoirs and other irrigation systems (Africare)
• In developing countries, one person uses an average of ten liters of water per day. In the United States, one person uses an average of 75-80 gallons in the same time period (http://www.epa.gov/)
• Each flush of the toilet uses the same amount of water that one person in the Third World uses all day for washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking (www.whrnet.org).
• In the past ten years, diarrhea has killed more children worldwide than all the people lost to armed conflict since World War II (Water Aid)
• Twelve million people die each year from lack of safe drinking water, including more than 3 million who die from waterborne diseases (WHO)
• Over 80% of the disease in developing countries is related to poor drinking water and sanitation (WHO)
• 1.5 billion people in the world are suffering from parasite infections, which can cause malnutrition, anemia and delayed growth, due to the presence of solid human waste in the environment. Many of these infections could be controlled with improved hygiene, clean water and sanitation. These (www.whrnet.org).
• The average distance a woman in Africa and Asia walks to collect water is 3.75 miles (www.whrnet.org)
• The weight of water that women in Asia and Africa carry on their heads is equivalent to the maximum baggage weight allowed by airlines – 20 kg, or 44lbs (www.whrnet.org)
• Women are the primary caretakers for those who fall ill from water-related diseases, reducing their time available for education and productive economic efforts (http://www.unfpa.org)
• One-third of women in Egypt walk more than an hour a day for water; in other parts of Africa, the task can consume as much as eight hours (www.unfpa.org)
• Medical research has documented cases of permanent damage to women’s health as a result of carrying water, such as chronic fatigue, spinal and pelvic deformities, and effects on reproductive health including spontaneous abortion (http://www.unhabitat.org)
• In some parts of Africa, women expend as much as 85% of their daily energy intake on getting water, increasing incidences of anemia and other health problems (www.unhabitat.org)