How much do people walk for water?

March 9, 2016 – by Soofia Mahmood, Ecoloodi volunteer

On world water day, March 22, 2016, Ecoloodi in collaboration with Ryerson Urban Water and with sponsorship from CH2M Hill is organizing Toronto Walk4Water that involves participants walking for 6 km to show solidarity and support with the people of the world who take such arduous journeys every day just to get water.

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Walking for water on a daily basis is not only a back breaking exercise, but is also one that implies serious economic costs, loss of education and, in majority of cases, gender discrimination. We have compiled some facts about the walk mostly women and children take every day to fetch water for their families:

  • In 2015, 663 million people in the world still lack improved drinking water sources (WHO). Of these people, 48% live in Sub-Saharan Africa, 20% in Southern Asia, 10% in Eastern Asia, 9% in South-Eastern Asia and 13% in other regions.
  • A survey conducted by UNICEF in 45 developing countries reveal that in almost 66% of the households without a source of drinking water on their premises, the women and girls end up with the responsibility of collect water.
  • The average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is 6 kilometres (OHCHR).
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water, equivalent to a year’s worth of labour by the entire workforce in France (UNWOMEN).
  • If girls are walking long distances to get water early morning, they are either not going to school or dropping out of school. According to a study in Tanzania, reducing the travel time to water from 30 minutes to 15 minutes increased girls’ school attendance by 12% (UN Water)
  • Increasing women’s access to clean water can free up to hundreds of hours annually that they can instead devote to more valuable pursuits such as strengthening families and communities, earning a living and leisure (BSR).
  • The heavy water, fetched in containers that vary in size, is carried on a child’s head for many miles, and with children carrying an average of one gallon or more, this water plus the container can weigh up to 10 pounds or more, which can also cause physical damage to a child’s body. The older the child, the more water they typically carry, with adolescent girls and women carrying up to 45 pounds of water on their head (The Water Project).

The facts stated above are harsh realities for millions of people. Join us for Toronto Walk4Water to help us create awareness about the water crisis and to support the cause. For registering today, click here.

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