200 Million Hours Lost In Search Of Water Daily

World Of Exclusives

By Cindy Michael

An approximately 200 million hours are lost in search of water daily worldwide, as water remains essential for life and most human activities across the globe.

A Water and Development Consultant, Micheal Ale, who is also a geologist, dropped this hint at the Rotary Club, Ikoyi, Chapter’s Breakfast Meeting held in Lagos recently on the topic: Water and Sanitation: Importance of Sanitation to Humanity, said ” Water is essential for life and for most activities of human society. Socio – economic development and maintenance of human health are completely dependent upon ready access to adequate water supplies.”

The water expert, who is the President, Association of Waterwell Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners (AWDROP), disclosed that because all societies require water both for basic survival and for economic development. “We’ve met young girls who walk in the 115 F heat of the Sahel Desert to collect water from 1,000 year old holes. We’ve met women in Ethiopia who walk to the river before sunrise and don’t get back until after lunch. We’ve met mothers in Mali who sometimes sleep next to an open water resources, so they can be the first in line when the water refills the next morning.”

According to him, ” For hundreds of millions of people, being born female means that life revolves around collecting water.” ” Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, or WASH, are issues that affect the health and well-being of every person in the world, lamenting that ” For many people, WASH concerns are taken for granted and their combined impact on life isn’t always appreciated.”

” For quality of water, sanitation and hygiene in a person’s life is directly correlated to poverty, as it is usually joined by lack of education, lack of opportunity and gender inequality,” he lamented, adding that ” Girls are the hardest hit by lack of clean water and sanitation for a few reasons. When schools lack functional toilets or latrines, girls often drop out because of the stigma associated with periods.”

Discussing the scope of the problem, Ale, a Co-founder, Global Initiative for Nigeria Development (GIND), disclosed that 780 million people do not have regular access to clean water. 2.4 billion people, or 35 percent of the global population, do not have access to adequate sanitation. Inadequate sanitation generally means open defecation. When people defecate in the open without a proper waste management system, then the faeces generally seeps into and contaminates water systems. Just standing in an open defecation zone can lead to disease, if for instance, the person is barefooted and parasites are there.” Adding that the problem is concentrated in sub Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Eastern Asia. The country with the most people lacking adequate WASH is India, which has been overtaking by Nigeria.”

According to him, “the good news is that this is a completely solvable problem,” asking “what life without clean water and adequate sanitation would be like? “A lot of your time would be spent trying to get clean water and avoid sanitation problems in the first place. And the hours not revolving around these concerns would probably reduced quality of life because of the many minor health problems associated with poor water quality. Ultimately, inadequate WASH leads to reduced quality of life all the time.”

” It is not all about gloomy picture of the situation, as some progress has been made. In 1990, 76 percent of the global population had access to safe drinking water and 54 percent had access to adequate sanitation facilities. In 2013, even though the population hsd climbed by more than two billion, 91 percent of people had access to safe drinking water and 68 percent had access to improved sanitation. That means in 25 years, 2.6 billion people gained access to safe drinking water and 2.1 billion gained access to improved sanitation,” he further disclosed.

It is a cheering development, as Rotary Club makes help available, he noted. “Through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programs, Rotary people of action mobilize resources, form partnerships and invest in infrastructure and training that yield long-term change.”

He listed some of the interventions as follow: ” If you ask a Philipino living in a rural area of the Philippines where they go to the toilet, they will turn their head towards a non specific direction and say “over there.” This means that they use any location that gives them some sort of privacy to do their needs. Women generally have to go longer distances to avoid prying eyes and avoid assaults. In fact, when one one talks to local community health workers about the risks of open defecation, they tell you about parasitic and bacterial infections while also emphasizing the high percentage of women being molested or harassed.”

” In November 2013, part of the Leyte Province in the Philippines was hit by the devastating typhoon Haiyan, the country’s worst typhoon affecting 25 million people and claiming nearly 6,000 lives, while leaving tremendous damage throughout the island. Immediately after the typoon, Rotary clubs from various countries came to the rescue. Local clubs responded with food supplies and worked with NGOs to begin rebuilding homes. Once immediate relief was provided, the focus shifted to meet sanitary requirements in restoring water supply and the construction of toilet facilities.”

” The Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay identified the WAND Foundation ( Water, Agro forestry, Nutrition and Development) as having the expertise to construct 20,000 latrines together with various NGO`s immediately after the typoon in the Province of Samar in the Philippines. WAND Foundation’s previous contacts with the Malmo (Sweden) International Rotary Club, provided a natural connection to propose this project at the 8th Multi Club Workshop (MCW) held in Ischia, Italy. The project was accepted by the MCW and the partners applied for a global grant, which was approved in February 2016. Seven Rotary clubs and three districts from Italy, the Philippines and Sweden contributed to the US$52,000 project,” Ale disclosed, wishing that this kind of initiative is copied here in Nigeria, where Rotary will partner with professionals to solve water problem.

“Rotary clubs and partners built 222 toilets, six rainwater collectors, seven communal hand washing stations and 20 biosand filters. The project provided more than 1,000 people with access to proper toilet facilities and almost 600 people with a regular supply of clean water.”

“All 24 of Lebanon’s Rotary clubs came together- overcoming religious, cultural and political divisions- to form partnerships with the government, World Vision, UNICEF and the Red Cross. Together, the groups developed a program that delivers clean water to every public school in the country.”

“Rotary clubs partnered with local organizations to install a rainwater harvesting and distribution center for 4,000 people in Madan, India. They also delivered training programs for women in the community and students in 35 schools.”

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