In our time in the field, we have seen what water can do. It can literally change lives. Forever. We have also seen what the lack of it means for children especially girls, women, men and entire communities. Water shapes lives, it makes or breaks futures for little children, it improves health, and the lack of clean water steals lives every day. This is why we value water and here’s why you should too:
Easy access to water means education for girls
It’s simple; time and energy freed up from water hauling means greater chances of receiving an education for little girls. Research suggests that women and girls are responsible for water collection in 8 out of 10 households with water off premises. It takes up a lot of time and energy, and when water is easily available, girls get to go to school while older women can engage in economically productive activities. UNICEF reports that access to clean water is directly linked to a 15% increase in girls’ enrolment in schools. In Ghana, Project Maji’s home country, a 15-minute reduction in water collection time increased girls’ school attendance from 8% to 12%. 13-year- old Matilda’s story is proof that this is true:
Dirty water kills more children than bullets
In a 16-nation study UNICEF found that children under the age of five, are 20 times more likely to die from dirty water than all forms of violence combined. In total, some 72,000 under-fives die annually from similar illnesses linked to water-access problems, compared to 3,400 from war-related violence. To us, this is more than just a statistic. It is an entirely avoidable tragedy, one that motivates us to keep going until every child in the world has clean water available to them.
Women feel safer with easy access to clean water
For those in the developed world, the act of collecting water poses no risk. We go to the tap and fill our glass. But for many in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly women and girls, such a day-to-day chore can be extremely dangerous. Over 17 million women and girls collect water at the risk of sexual violence, every day. So, we, at Project Maji, strive to bring women and girls sustainable access to safe water, only a short stroll away from their front door. Keeping women’s safety in mind, we situate our kiosks strategically in the heart of each community we serve. We know it makes a profound difference in their lives and evidence from our post-impact studies reveals the same. 96% women across Maji communities feel it is safe to access water from the kiosk:
Access to water unlocks joy!
While living in water insecurity is often linked to symptoms of anxiety and depression, particularly among women, we have seen entire communities dancing with joy over receiving access to water. They know their lives have changed forever! Community women and girls get their lives back, there is free time to relax, and families no longer have to spend money on hospital visits. The joy we bring with clean water keeps us going. Amol Parker, our Country Director in Ghana says:
“For me, smiles on the faces of small children who have just received clean water remains the biggest motivation. It keeps me going. The joy of knowing that by delivering clean water we have changed their lives forever and given them a much brighter future, is priceless.”
For us, at Project Maji, water is valuable not only because of the transformation it brings in the communities we serve, but also because of the suffering the lack of water can inflict. This is why our work has to go on. Every day until the water crisis is crushed and there is no longer a need for a World Water Day to bring attention to the 785 million people living without access to safe water.