A handful of women stepped into an ankle-deep pond. They bent at the waist to dip metal tubs into the water. They made shallow passes with the containers, trying to avoid the worst of the sediment.
They were collecting water to drink, cook and bathe with from the only free source within walking distance. The pond, though, was close to drying up during the lull before the rainy season, and sometimes the women got sick from drinking the untreated water.
I walked back to their camp with these women in Ghana as they balanced the metal containers—heavy enough that I’d have trouble lifting them, let alone setting them on my head. They didn’t complain; they at least had something to drink.
A pump with much cleaner water was several hundred yards away, but a man stood guard to collect money from anyone who used it. These women had no money, so they made do with the silty pond.
Many of us in the Global North take water for granted. We don’t think of our good fortune when we take a sip, wash the dishes or flush the toilet. Yet 768 million people worldwide don’t have access to safe and clean water, according to UNICEF.
UNICEF is now running a program to help bring clean water to more people in need through its Tap Project. And we can help—by giving up something that is a luxury, we can provide a life-giving necessity.
Here’s how it works. On your smart phone, go to uniceftapproject.org. Click the continue button and set your phone down. As long as you don’t touch your cell, you’ll rack up donations from sponsors on your behalf. In just ten minutes of staying off your phone, you’ll have earned enough to provide a child with water for a day. You can do it as many times as you like, too!
I learned a few things as well. Facts pop up on your screen every so often as the site logs your progress. They reminded me that water is a human right but safe access to it is especially important for women and children, especially girls.
- Women carry two-thirds the burden of collecting drinking water.
- Carrying heavy bottles of water is the biggest cause of injuries for young girls in rural areas.
I’ve set my phone aside several times in the last week. It took almost no effort, besides resisting the compulsion to see why it beeped. Text messages can wait; people who need water can’t.
Will you give up your cell for a few minutes today?