by Amanda Sotolongo, IX Water intern
In developing countries, education is largely tied to water. This is because when the community has no running water, women often have to spend their days gathering water for the household. It is estimated that the women in Africa spend a total of 40 billion working hours collecting water each year. This is comparable to the entire workforce in France. It takes so long because the average water source is 3.75 miles away, so traveling there and back with a full container of water twice a day is a full-time job with no days off.
The water they are able to drink is likely from a local river, stream, or well and may be contaminated with an illness. The CDC found that water carries over 15 illnesses so if they are not gathering the water themselves, the effects of contaminated water may also prevent them from going to school (if it doesn’t kill them).
As a further note, schools themselves do not have bathrooms or sanitation equipment so girls have to stay at home during menstruation. This is another thing that contributes to gender inequality, and the continued injustice to women even though the 20th century. If the girls are not going to school, they can not get an education, work, or get out of the cycle of poverty. Boys are more likely to go to school but many do not graduate. They instead leave school to work full-time jobs in hopes of providing for the family.
If they had running water the women could go to school and hold jobs and provide for their families instead of the back-breaking water transportation that is done by piping systems in the first world. Improving water sanitation, transportation, and filtration systems would help children get an education, and take steps to gain gender equality in developing countries like Africa. It would drastically and reduce the cycle of poverty and improve the quality of life of countless families. Learn more at https://www.setfreealliance.org/water-and-education/ and support our mission at IX Power Clean Water.