Last day of the challenge today! I’m pretty excited And to celebrate, I’m going to take a break from complaining about being hungry in order to focus on the fact that I’m not thirsty.
Or rather, to talk about water.
In the information pack for the challenge, participants are advised to stay well-hydrated by drinking two litres of water per day. Water from the tap costs nothing in this challenge. And this is, perhaps, the biggest difference between first-world poverty and the third-world variety.
Water is free – or if not free, precisely (she says, thinking about her recent water bill), freely available at the turn of a tap.
And not just any water – water that is clean and potable (unless you are in Adelaide) and doesn’t have to be boiled before use.
I drink a lot of water. But I’ve also been thinking, over the last few days, about all the other ways I use water when cooking. To soak beans. To make stock. To cook pasta or rice. To steam or parboil vegetables, or to poach chicken. To add to pasta sauces or casseroles that are about to stick. To wash fruit and vegetables that I’m going to eat raw. In breadmaking. Cooking things in the slow cooker.
I’m sure I’ve missed some uses. And some of the uses I’ve listed above involve boiling the water anyway, but not all of them do, and I feel a bit overwhelmed just thinking about having to boil water and cool it before I can even start washing vegetables or doing anything else.
For a real taste of exhaustion, now imagine having to go and fetch all that water from a pump or well or river before boiling it and using it. Oh, and don’t forget that you will also need water to wash yourself and your clothes and to water your crops.
To be honest, water poverty is something I know very little about (even less than I do about food security, in fact). I have, I suspect, the same general vague awareness that most Westerners would have that there are a number of third-world countries where people – particularly women – spend much of their day fetching water. This is, of course, time that cannot be spent on getting an education, or growing crops, or running a business, or even doing household chores, and is thus a huge contributor to poverty in these countries.
As someone who studied history, I also have a quiet but nonetheless fervent gratitude for a first-world sewerage system that has turned water-borne diseases such as cholera into something one hears about on the news rather than experiences first hand.
So rather than writing an essay about water poverty when others have written far better ones already, I’m going to link below to three sites by people who know a lot more than I do on this topic, and better still, are doing something about it.
Just for a change, if today was the day you were going to sponsor me, I ask that you instead direct your donation to one of the organisations below.
The Water Project – working with local partners to provide closer access to clean water in Sub-Saharan Africa
End Water Poverty – focusing on the global sanitation crisis
Wello – creating a rolling water drum that can be used to transport larger quantities of water safely and easily. I absolutely love this project!