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Impacts of Water Scarcity on Women’s Life

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.

Comments

JaniceW's picture

A serious problem

Sunita,
Thank you for bringing attention to this most serious problem. With Nepal ranking among the poorest countries in Asia, women, Dalit and indigenous peoples seem to bear the brunt of the inequitable water systems. From what I have read, the richest and higher caste men dominate all aspects of access to water and sanitation delivery projects. This causes unequal access to safe drinking water between the better-off and the poorest socio-economic groups.

With less than 60% of Nepal's rural population having access to safe water, and 20% with no access to basic sanitation facilities, this is a pressing issue and needs to be addressed. There seem to be some programs in place run by NGOs but I wonder how effective they are. Have you any knowledge of successful programs to bring sanitation facilities to the rural areas?

sunita.basnet's picture

MY Opinion

Dearest Didi,
Namaste,

Yeah, I completely agree with your perspective. Women are the most vulnerable group from the scarcity of water. There are some NGOs who helped to make well and tape in the minority group community; However, due to proper monitoring and evaluation, their efforts really count less than they deserve. Actually, there are some NGOs who are really working hard and effectively but there are some NGOs who just build the well and left. They even do not check the quality of the water, neither they evaluate how many families are really benefitting from their work.

In my opinion, to solve the problem of water scarcity, as women are the most vulnerable group, their involvement in decision making is highly needed. I think ignoring women in the decision making level of water is similiar to ignoring the issues.

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

JaniceW's picture

I agree

Yes, involving women at the decision-making level is crucial. That not only comes from the top bringing them to the table but also from the bottom where women demand to be heard. Educating women on their rights so that they know how to stand up for themselves will go a long way towards empowering them and their communities in the future. This is where your studies will greatly enhance your efforts as you learn what tools and knowledge women need to advocate for their rights.

All the best with finals, Bahini.
Janice

sunita.basnet's picture

Education!

Oh Yeah Didi,

To involve the women in the decision making level, we need to education them, so that they can stand up and speak out for their rights. They can stand up and speak against injustices and have their voice heard. Thank you so much for your wishes.
Love you much
Hajur ko Bahini

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

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