What's Water Worth To You? (Guest post: Dan Martin)

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Dan Martin is a personal friend and excellent blogger.  He is one of three other blogs that I have been reading since the “early days” of writing.  He brings his story about clean water issues to you today…


What is water worth to you, my Western friends?  How do you get it, and how do you use it?  If you have a “water-saving” shower-head, a 10-minute shower would use 25 gallons.  If you have a “water-saving” toilet, every flush is 1.2-1.6 gallons (a regular toilet is 3.5 GPF).  Brush your teeth while letting the water run, easily half a gallon or more.  Do a load of laundry will take up to 40 gallons for a top-loading machine, or 10-24 gallons for a more-efficient front-loader (source:  ehow.com).  And let’s not even get started on watering lawns and washing cars…

Of course for us it’s easy.  We turn on the tap, and as long as we pay our bill, the water keeps running till we turn it off.  I’d like to introduce you to a place where it’s not that easy.  All of these photos are taken in the Tandala area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  If you’d like to know where that is, put these coordinates into Google Maps and you’ll be in the right ballpark:  4.24343,19.617919.  Believe me, it’s out there.  I visited DRC in 2007.

Take a look at the water pan this woman is filling:

That pan is so heavy it takes two of her friends to get it up on top of her head.  No wonder, it’s got between 18 and 20 gallons of water in it (that weighs between 140 and 160 pounds!).  If she is like most of the women I interviewed (and it is ALWAYS women and girls), she walked roughly half an hour from her home to the water point, filled her pan, and now is going to walk another half an hour home.

When she gets there, she’ll put this pan with the other water containers she’s brought during the day.  The women I spoke with seemed to average three or four such trips a day to support the cooking and drinking needs of a family of up to five children (laundry and bathing are done at the place water is).

Now stop and back up for a moment:  I just said that woman spends an hour or more of her day, to carry one shower’s worth (or five toilet flushes’ worth) of water on her head.  Think of how much more she could do to care for her family, and how much pain and stress she could save, if there were water near, or even in, her home.

I haven’t even talked about the issue of whether that water is clean and safe…but the World Health Organization states that almost 884 million people do not have access to safe drinking water from any source.  Friends, this is a matter of justice!  “From him to whom much is given, shall much be required.”

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  • Anonymous

    Excellent post Dan, and very needed!

    • Mason… U = one of three original blog friends as well. PS – I need to have you write a guest blog here soon too! Write on anything you feel like 😉