Women and girls across the world collectively spend about 200 million hours every day collecting water which is a “colossal waste” of their valuable time, the UN children’s agency has said of the activity which is a daily routine for millions of girls in India.
As World Water week kicked off on August 28, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) highlighted the opportunity cost from a lack of access to water disproportionately falls on women and girls who collectively spend as much as 200 million hours or more than 22,800 years every day collecting this vital resource.
“Just imagine: 200 million hours is 8.3 million days, or over 22,800 years,” UNICEF’s global head of water, sanitation and hygiene Sanjay Wijesekera said.
“It would be as if a woman started with her empty bucket in the Stone Age and didn’t arrive home with water until 2016. Think how much the world has advanced in that time. Think how much women could have achieved in that time,” he said.
“When water is not on premises and needs to be collected, it’s our women and girls who are mostly paying with their time and lost opportunities,” he added.
The 26th World Water Week Kicks Off in Stockholm
The Global Rundown
World Water Week commenced Sunday in Stockholm(Sweden). In event scientists called for improvements in rainwater management to reduce hunger in Africa. Mexico’s environmental prosecuting agency defended its actions following revelations about a contaminated water leak at the country’s largest gold mine.
India’s Supreme Court will begin hearings this week on a dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over water supplies in the Cauvery River Basin. Human rights groups are focusing attention on the fate of indigenous communities displaced to preserve the environment. Newly elected members of parliament in Australia’s Northern Territory have voiced support for a moratorium on fracking there. Environmentalists in Turkey say a major new bridge will damage forests and water supplies.
- The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal for water and sanitation calls for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030. UNICEF said in this regard, the first step is providing everyone with a basic service within a 30-minute round trip, and the long term goal is to ensure everyone has safe water available at home.
- However, UN estimates are that in sub-Saharan Africa for 29 per cent of the population, improved drinking water sources are 30 minutes or more away. In Asia, the numbers are 21 minutes in rural areas and 19 minutes in urban areas.
- UNICEF added that when water is not piped to the home, the burden of fetching it falls disproportionately on women and children, especially girls. A study of 24 sub-Saharan countries found that when the collection time is more than 30 minutes, an estimated 3.36 million children and 13.54 million adult females were responsible for water collection.
- In Malawi, the UN estimates that women who collected water spent 54 minutes on average, while men spent only 6 minutes. The UN agency noted that for women, the opportunity costs of collecting water are high, with far reaching effects. The theme of this year’s Week is ‘Water for Sustainable Growth.’ It goes on till September 2.
Science, Studies, And Reports
- Some 3,000 participants from more than 120 countries will participate at this year’s World Water Week representing governments, the private sector, multilateral organizations, civil society and academia.
- Two prizes will be awarded during World Water Week, to recognize excellence in the water world. On Tuesday 30 August, the Stockholm Junior Water Prize will be awarded by H.R.H. Prince Carl Philip of Sweden to one of 29 competing nations.
- On Wednesday 31 August, the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize will be awarded to Professor Rose, for her tireless contributions to global public health; by assessing risks to human health in water and creating guidelines and tools for decision-makers and communities to improve global wellbeing. The prize will be awarded by patron of the prize, H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden.