Nepal WASH Blog Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) & Development in Nepal

March 21, 2011

Ten ways to spend your days

Filed under: Advocacy,Campaigns,Walk for Water — Anita Pradhan @ 9:00 am

To mark World Water Day on 22 March, WaterAid has revealed 10 startling comparisons between the time people in the West spend on everyday activities such as watching football, planning a wedding, and surfing social networking sites, and the time people in the world’s poorest countries spend fetching water.

The average amount of time spent fetching water in developing countries is three hours a day with people spending up to 10 hours per day on this time-consuming task.

The responsibility of collecting water usually falls on the shoulders of women and children, preventing them from going to school, earning a living or just having fun. In fact, a total of 40 billion working hours every year are lost to water collection. Too often, the water is dirty, resulting in diseases such as diarrhoea or cholera.

“Lack of water and sanitation traps people in a vicious circle of disease, lost opportunities, poverty and indignity,” said Girish Menon, Director for International Programmes at WaterAid.

“That’s why WaterAid and other members of End Water Poverty will hold walking events across the globe on World Water Day to raise awareness of the wasted hours and missed opportunities for millions of people across the globe.”

What would you have to miss out on?

- I’ll wash, you dry! The average couple spends 40 minutes a day arguing about household chores (eSure). Women in the world’s poorest countries can spend up to 10 hours per day collecting water before even getting started on household chores.

- Let’s get social: Worldwide, people spend an average of five and a half hours on social networking sites per week (Nielsen). For millions, that’s less than two trips to collect water.

- Bubbly: The average time spent in the bath or shower adds up to one hour and 25 minutes a week (Bathstore), just under half the time needed for millions to fetch it for millions living without a safe water supply nearby!

- A nice cuppa: The British spend about six hours a week drinking tea and coffee (LearnDirect). That’s two trips to collect water, with no coffee break.

- Break a sweat: The average British adult exercises just 50 minutes a week (WeightWatchers) – less than a third of one trip to collect 20kg of water.

- I say! The average man will spend five hours a week staring at different women (Kodak Lens Vision Centres). In one week, the average woman in a developing country would have spent 21 hours collecting water.

- Square eyes: The average American spends a staggering 153 hours a month watching TV. (Nielsen) In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 50 trips to fetch water will be made in the same amount of time, with no TV around to make it more interesting.

- Yum! The average woman spends 94 hours and 55 minutes shopping for food over one year (OnePoll). Women in Africa can spend the same amount of time collecting water in just one month. This time could be much better spent growing or selling their own food.

- Wedding bells: A bride-to-be spends an average of 250 hours preparing for a wedding. For a woman in a developing country, that time could be spent making 83 trips to collect water. You can bet she’d rather be planning her big day!

- School’s out: It takes a mighty 3,600 study hours to complete an Open University Honours degree. That’s little more than three years spent fetching water – time better spent on education.

For 884 million people around the world currently living without one, a safe water supply close to home is both a lifesaver and a time-saver, enabling them to take a crucial step out of poverty.

“Water is essential for improving health, education, gender equality and economic growth,” added Girish. “Governments must commit to taking action to provide the world’s poorest with access to both clean water and safe sanitation. The world can’t wait any longer.”

Join the online walk for water to call for immediate action to end the global water crisis.

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