Women and Water
Recently I shared some raw statistics about the scarcity of water in India, and the toll it takes on health, particularly in rural areas. Today, I want to point your attention to the population who are literally carrying the burden of the water crisis on their backs.
While climate change and mismanagement of water resources continue to deplete groundwater supplies in India, women do what they’ve always done: collect water. Many of these women live in places where there has never been access to clean water, others live in areas where wells have dried up, or where surface water is deeply polluted.
The time and effort that must be expended getting water have solidified a second-class citizenry for millions of women. Imagine if your morning routine consisted of, “gather large metal pot, put on head, walk a mile or two to another town, wait at a well, fill up large metal pot with 15 liters of water, place back on head, walk back home, dispense water into jugs, go to work.” Now imagine repeating this in the evening, and perhaps multiple times mid-day. Each journey easily takes over 30 minutes. In fact, it is estimated that a rural Indian woman will travel 14,000 kilometers, or 8,700 miles each year in her search for water! Urban women may have proximity to clean water, but stand for hours in long lines to collect it. The consequences of this journey to water are varied and many. They include loss of productive work time, failure to complete education, exposure to disease, and the threat of rape and violence.
Indian women spend an estimated 150 million work days gathering water each year. What if that time and energy were invested in education or productive work time? Each woman who is functioning as a water mule is an individual with a mind, curiosity, creativity, and the capacity to build something significant in her community. While women are spending inordinate hours collecting water, there is a loss of education, elder care, child care, contribution to other work at home, investing in skills and trade, and thus an equivalent loss of national income at 10 billion rupees a year, or 160 million US dollars.
The water crisis in India is overwhelming. Water demand is on track to doubly outpace its supply by 2030. The consequences will continue to affect the day to day lives of millions of women, and the stability of the nation. Thankfully, we serve a loving God who is BIGGER than this problem. He is calling us, one person at a time, one church at a time, one community at a time, to step into the gap and to do something big.
India Gospel League has a vision for a church in every Indian village by 2040! As churches are planted and people are introduced to the Living Water that they so desperately need, we can join together to provide them with life-changing clean water as well. I’d love to tell you more about how you can make a huge impact on the lives of women (and everyone else!) by providing a water well to one of our villages, and will give all the details in my next post. (If you can’t wait, find out more and donate by clicking on the buttons below!)