by Jessi Johnson
There is increased awareness of the need for clean water in the world. The global water crisis has become both a rallying point for many who strive to address the issues of lack of access to drinkable water and other limited resources. When thinking about fighting about the water crisis, we usually think about the struggle for clean drinking water, and it can be easy to overlook another challenge faced by those lacking access to water – the inability to take a shower and bathe their children.
Many take for granted being able to wash themselves; for some countries, it is not only a matter of hygiene, but one of religion and ritual as well. Being able to purify in water can hold great cultural significance. The health benefits of staying clean are more obvious: decreased illnesses, improved immune strength, quicker recovery from illness, and better moods. Being able to solve the global water crisis will lead to healthier bodies, inside and out.
For 23-year-old Ludwick Marishane, the power of the shower was just as essential as fresh drinking water. The South African-born entrepreneur created “DryBath,” a germ-killing gel that allows a person to bathe without using a single drop of water – all one has to do is apply the lotion to skin and rub vigorously. DryBath is a blend of cleansers, moisturizers, natural emollients, and fruit acids – to cleanse the skin and to prevent dryness, irritation and body odor.
This amazing lotion isn’t just for the person too lazy to shower; it could become an essential tool in conserving clean water. Water can take an entire day to gather, and the local water source may be polluted or dried up. When water is limited and people are forced to choose between quenching their thirst or cleaning their bodies, most people will make the practical choice and cut out a “luxury” like showering.
Even for societies which don’t bathe regularly as a cultural norm, the DryBath is an opportunity to bring in a system of hygiene that will save water costs and improve health. When water doesn’t have to be used for bathing, the local population can use their limited resource of clean water for drinking and cooking. There are nearly 2 billion people in the world without access to clean water and adequate sanitation. In contrast, urban communities consume an average of 21 gallons every time they turn on the shower. DryBath provides a stopgap solution for communities without access to water, but may also be an important resource for places that overindulge in water – cut back on water usage in urban societies, and more water could be available to rural ones.
Marishane’s project is still in development, but its very existence offers hope. While it is essential to increase access to clean drinking water around the world, perhaps there is also a way to simultaneously increase access to clean bathing? After all, everyone has the right to feel clean, inside and out.