In many cultures, women are the collectors, users, managers and the guardians of water especially in the sector of household chores including cooking, washing, drinking, and child caring. In my paper, I will talk about the water crises in developing countries that have negative impacts on women’s education and health because they are the one who have to spend several hours in finding water sources and have the burden of carrying water from far away distance for household chores and family.
The Global Health and Education foundation reports that in some desert areas of Gujrat India, when there is scarcities of water, just to collect water, women often spend about three hours back and forth by walking 16-20 kilometers every single day. It also says that on average, women or girls in developing countries have to walk six kilometers per day in search of water. Spending hours and hours in search of water often stop girls from going to school. As a result, many girls are forced to drop out from a school in their early ages. For instance, in Beltaar, one of the dry places in Nepal, my cousin, Sunita (Don’t be confused we have the similar name) is studying in class five since three years. She missed several classes collecting water especially during monsoon and winter seasons. When it is monsoon, it takes more time to collect the water because of the slippery street and heavy rainfall. When it is winter, she has to wait hours and hours in a queue to collect water from well. Thus, she failed in classes because of heavy household chores. Currently, my cousin does not want to continue her school because she is so embarrassed to be in the same class for years. If the girls drop out from schools, they will not be able to contribute to reduce poverty and improve their livelihoods by involving in job opportunities.
Additionally, women and girls do not have access to clean water because some of the ponds and wells are close proximity to septic tanks. In my village, Mrigauliya, Morang, Nepal, there are some latrines’ pipes which are directly connected to pond. That pond water is used for household chores in the neighboring village by dalit community, also known as untouchable caste in Nepal. Dalit families are not allowed to collect water from wells and tube wells of so called higher caste. Many times, these dalit families complain about the latrine pipes, but the local authority does not take any action. However, a year ago, the Mrigauliya village development committee has provided a new tube well for dalit communities. When the water was tasted, the local authority informed the dalit community to stop drinking the water from the tube-well because it contained arsenic. Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services reports that long term exposure to arsenic contained drinking water has hazardous health effects on skin, bladder, lung, liver colon, kidney, blood pressure, and stomach. In addition, carrying water in a large container on heads is more likely to have severe health implication to women and girls. The most common health problem is backache and headaches. They often suffer from anxiety, stress, lightheadedness, vomiting and vertigo after walking hours and hours with a huge gallon of water in empty stomach.
Although women are suffering negatively from the water crisis, they have a huge responsibility to fulfill the demand of water for household chores and family. If the issue of water crisis is not taken seriously, it is for sure that women have to live dejected life from the water scarcity especially in the emerging countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Cambodia.