Compassionate about the poor Bill Mulcahy (Brisbane) Bill's previous articles
April 6, 2012 Water, Water!! – Annie’s Story www.spiritofthebush.net
This week at school I projected an image of an African girl (who I have called Annie for several years). Annie is about 9 years old and walks several kilometres twice a day to collect water in a yellow 15Lt drum. She is seen walking along a dirt track with small trees and long grasses swaying in the breeze. Annie is by herself. Each year I give my students a task to write that uses the five senses (touch, sight, sound, smell and taste). They are to write a short story of Annie’s daily chore about what she might see, might hear, and might smell, etc. on her travels. You get the picture. But for children that have been brought up with electronic gadgets, iPods and some not knowing too much about what to do in a backyard, it is difficult to imagine much about this chore of Annie’s.
Which leads me to a broader world picture. All people of the world should have reasonable access to clean water. You know, water, for which life would not exist. Water is the prerequisite for life. But when you discover the disparities of distribution you find that many of us in the first world truly abuse water use. I live in Australia, they say the ‘Lucky Country’, but we have the second highest water usage rate per household in the world at 485 litres per day, second only to the USA at 600 litres per household per day. 90% of this 485 litres amount is used purely for showering/bathing, flushing the toilet, washing our clothes and watering the garden.
Yet, millions of the world’s poorest subsist on fewer than 20 litres or water per day. One out of eight people (884 million) lacks access to clean water. Almost 3.57 million people die each year from water-related health problems. 1 child dies each 20 seconds from a water-related health problem. That is 180 children each hour. How would you go living on 20 litres each day: remember this is for drinking, bathing, washing, cooking and cleaning. Try it one day for an experience. Let me know how you coped.