A watertight investment for girls with an eightfold return
This World Water Week, campaigns such as charity: water’s are more important than ever for girls' futures
Question: right now, as you read this, how far away is your nearest source of water?
The odds are that there is a tap little more than yards away from where you're sitting or standing.
Quick and easy access to clean, safe water is something that many people take for granted. But how different would your life be if, rather than yards away, that tap was miles away, or even days away?
Developing poor economies
That's often the case in developing countries, where a billion people lack access to safe, clean drinking water.
Girls, who are often relied on for chores such as fetching water and collecting firewood, are disproportionately affected by the problem. Travelling to and from the nearest water source has a significant impact on their wellbeing and development. According to USAid, 40 billion hours are spent carrying water every year in Africa alone.
The first casualty is education. Hours of travel for water are hours that they can't spend in a classroom acquiring the skills and knowledge that are vital for the development of poor economies. An estimated 443 million school days are lost every year.
Fetching water also exposes girls and women to the dangers of harassment and violence on the streets, not to mention the effect on girls' health from carrying up to 45 pounds of water on their heads for as much as six hours a day.
For girls who are able to avoid these dangers and stay in school, the lack of clean water and girls' only toilets makes attendance during menstruation extremely difficult.
Clear economic benefits
As experts gather in Stockholm for World Water Week, when they will discuss ways of improving water access in developing communities, the economic benefits of improving access to water is clear. The UN Development Programme says that for every dollar spent on water projects the return will be US$8 in saved time, increased productivity and reduced health costs.
That's why campaigns such as the one charity: water has launched this month are so important. Their September campaign is aiming to raise $2m to bring clean water to villages in India.
Joe Madiath, from charity: water's partner Gram Vikas, says that bringing water to these villages is "a game changer. It restores the dignity of women, it brings unity to the village."
He continues: "Waste and sanitation programmes create an enabling environment so that all aspects of development can take off. It's a vehicle for eliminating exclusion."
That includes the exclusion of girls from education, and that's why we're all for it.
Change girls' lives and bring clean water to 100 villages in Orissa, India, with charity: water's September campaign.