Benjamin Franklin once said, “When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.” For millions of children around the world, they have already learned this difficult lesson.
In Rwanda, children are walking one to three miles, carrying back 40 pounds of water four times a day. The constant need for water is time consuming and exhausting.
Around the world, 376 million children must walk more than 15 minutes to access water. Studies show that in sub-Saharan Africa and many other areas around the world women and young girls must walk an average of four miles every day just to provide water for their families.
Each year in Africa, 40 billion working hours are spent just on fetching water. The consequences are tragic. Children have no time for school and the adults, especially the women, have little time left to pursue opportunities that would financially benefit their families. The long-term damage and ripple effects of this loss of time are too great to measure.
The world’s poorest 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Many of these same people lack a basic education. And it should be no surprise that a large part of this number—1.1 billion—lack access to clean water.
In addition, communities without water do not thrive and there is usually no infrastructure for schools. Without water, communities literally dry up, and as always, it is the children who suffer the most.
There is an African proverb, “Filthy water cannot be washed.” It is a simple statement but it reveals the helplessness of those who have no way of reaching clean water. It is said by those who know water’s true worth.