Development projects that bring clean and accessible drinking water to sub-Saharan African communities bring empowerment to women at both local and regional levels. Girls who might otherwise spend up to four hours a day walking to fetch water are free to spend that time in school. Women are suddenly granted more time to pursue income-generating activities, and more flexibility to apply for microcredit loans. These improvements are critical steps toward empowering women, promoting gender equality and increasing female self-sufficiency, which contribute to the overall social and economic stability of developing nations.
As the summer blockbusters debut, here are some movies on water and sanitation that you might want to catch and some from the recent past that you might remember.
Excerpts from remarks by Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. June 13, 2011
Around the world, women and girls in developing countries walk an average of 6 kilometers a day (3.75 miles) carrying 20 liters (or 42 pounds) of water—often in isolated, unsafe areas, putting them in harm’s way. In some areas, the journey takes more than 15 hours a week, making it difficult for girls to go to school. Less education means fewer economic opportunities for women, which in turn hurts the local economy. And thus the cycle continues.
Covering global systems and megatrends, the “Future of Water” virtual conference examined how different fields, sectors and stakeholders can meet the challenge of providing a growing global population with clean and sustainable water. 60 leading thinkers each spoke for one minute, conveying their perspectives and thoughts about what is needed to solve the clean water problem.
Every year on World Water Day, there is a theme and this year it is: Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge. The United Nations reports that by 2030, nearly 60% of the world will reside in cities, resulting in critical problems regarding how we manage water as well as wastewater.
Do you know how the international observance of World Water Day started? It began in 1992 as an initiative at the United Nations on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. Although the theme changes every year, it is still a time to get people to focus on the need to provide everyone on the planet with safe water.
For the fifth year in a row, UNICEF is raising money for clean water for children around the world through the organization’s Tap Project during World Water Week, March 20-26, 2011. The award-winning program that started in 300 New York restaurants, has since expanded to become a nationwide movement. During World Water Week, restaurants across the U.S. will encourage their patrons to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoy for free, according to the campaign’s slogan “When You Take Water, Give Water.” Since its inception in 2007, the UNICEF Tap Project has raised almost $2.5 million in the U.S. and has helped to provide clean water for millions of children globally.
Sean Bates, the co-owner of Larchmont Grill, one of the restaurants participating in the project in Los Angeles, calls UNICEF’s initiative “the most phenomenal charitable idea ever.” This year, Larchmont Grill will be participating in the program for the third time.
Here are highlights of a report published in late 2010 on the impact of the global financial crisis on financial flows to the water sector in Sub-Saharan Africa. The goal of the study was to analyze how the water sector is presently financed and then trace the impact of the crisis on these financing sources. The lead author was John Joyce of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). Jakob Granit (SIWI), Emmanuel Frot (Stockholm University), David Hall, Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) and David Haarmeyer (Independent Consultant) were co-authors.
Somewhere in a village in Niger, Amina is giving birth to a boy whose father already abandoned the family. The girl got married at the age of 12, now she suffers chest pains that prevent her from eating and sleeping. If it was not for World Vision’s workers coming to her village, there would have been no one to take care of her baby.
Abandonment and depression are only two of many negative aspects likely to develop when girls get married too young, in fact when they are still children. This phenomenon, however strange to Westerners, is common in many developing countries. Fifty-one million girls in the developing world have been married before legal adulthood. Over one-third girls in Niger marry before the age of 15, according to World Vision’s report “Before She’s Ready.” Three out of four brides in Niger are younger than 18. Only Bangladesh notes more under age marriages; in over half of them, brides are under 15.
World Hand Washing Day was observed on October 15, 2010 in a region known for its high population density and high population growth, one of the highest in the world at more than 6% annually. The Chadakori Area Development Program, which hosted the World Hand Washing Day ceremony, covers a population of 44,881. The departments represented at this ceremony were: Primary Education, District Health, Water Services along with the schoolteachers, students, parents, and various youth groups and women’s associations of Chadakori and vicinity.