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Water is a Women’s Issue

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

In most parts of the world where people have a serious lack of water, the responsibility to gather it falls on women. Because of this, women face very serious risks when they don’t have water close to home.

Imagine that you’re a single mother, at home with your children. You have three of them – one 14-year-old, one 5-year-old, and one only 22-months-old. They are dependent on you for their care. You need to get some water. Your children need to drink and wash. You need water to cook food. But the nearest water source is 7km away, and the journey is long and dangerous. What can you do?

Can you imagine if this was your life? If you had to face this struggle every day?

This was Sibongile’s life. She is the only parent of her three children. When the family needs water, she had to leave them behind with a neighbour while she made the long walk to the Ngezi River to collect water. It wasn’t clean or safe water, but it was the only source they had.

“We were drinking unsafe water,” Sibolgile says. “And having to walk long distances.”

A trip to the river and back is 14km – seven there, and seven back again – carrying up to 20kg of water, often on her head. Collecting water from the Ngezi exposes her to the danger of wild animals like crocodiles and hippos. She is at risk of getting caught up in the river and drowning. And a woman by herself weighed down with a heavy load is also vulnerable to attack.  

This is the reality for many women like Sibongile. In Africa, women and girls make up 52% of the population, but are responsible for gathering the water in 80% of households. They are also expected to grow food, and take care of the children. Because of this, women often don’t have time to work, and have very little free time.

“The plight of women is now something that is being observed and realised,” Sibongile says. “It is something we are excited about as women, because we feel there should be space for us as women.”

Sibongile now stands in front of the bore hole that has been installed in her village. There’s a source of safe water close to her home now! She also doesn’t have to worry as much about her children.

“It’s now easy and quick to come here and fetch water,” she explains. “As I can briefly leave my children at home for a few minutes without worry. Now we have plenty of time to do other things like gardening after getting our water.”

With the bore hole close by, Sibongile’s daily journey has been cut down to just one kilometre! She has much more time to spend with her children. She now has enough time to work, and start gaining an income.

Sibongile’s life has been changed because of the bore hole installed in her village!

“I don’t have much more to add but to thank you so much and pray that God bless you in your lives.”

Showers of Blessings is able to help people like Sibongile thanks to the generous support of people like you! One of the major ways that GMP supports Showers of Blessings is through the money raised during Safe Water September.

You can make a difference in the life of somebody like Sibongile! It only costs $20 to provide one person with safe water. You can make a donation online at safewaterseptember.org.au

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