Clean water empowers women
Asha collecting water at the new well in Dar es Salaam.
Credit: WaterAid / Marco Betti
Millions of women in the developing world spend hours each day collecting water. The water they find is often dirty and contaminated, meaning their families get sick from diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery.
The burden of care for sick family members usually also falls to women, leaving women with little time or energy left for productive work.
WaterAid and our local partner organizations help poor communities in developing countries to gain access to clean water supplies and sanitation. Our projects are very empowering for women, who are freed from hours of water-carrying labor.
>> View our Facebook photo album for International Women's Day on how water and sanitation impact women
Before we had the new tapstand some days I wouldn’t go to the farm at all, I would just collect water all day.
One such woman is 65 year-old Asha Yusufkisemi from the city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, East Africa. She used to fetch water from a scoophole in a riverbed, as she described:
“We had to dig our own traditional well down at the bottom of the
valley near the river. We dug a hole that was two meters deep. Then we
would use small containers to scoop water from the well into our
buckets. During the dry season we would each have to wait five to six hours
for our turn to collect water."
Then WaterAid helped the community to drill
a borehole fitted with an electric pump. Now Asha has easy access to safe, clean water close to home,
which has freed up time for more farming work,
as she describes:
"I have my own shaban [smallholding farm] out of town. Before we had the new tapstand some days I wouldn’t go to the farm at all, I would just collect water all day. Everything had to stop then, we couldn’t do any other activities until we had collected our water for the day
“Now there is no worry, I can wake up early in the morning and go to the farm and know I can come back and fetch water from the tapstand without there being a line. Now I can spend more time at the farm and grow cassava, rice and sweet potatoes."
As well as having more time to work, Asha now knows she is a lot more safe from illness, and can use more water each day. She told us:
Women in Dar es Salaam wait for their turn to collect water at a dirty scoophole.
Credit: WaterAid / Marco Betti
"When we used the old traditional well we had problems with diseases, including cholera. It was horrible, very horrible. Now we get clean, safe water from the tapstand and we don’t get diarrheal diseases so often.
“When we had the old well we didn’t have enough water. Some days we would have to decide that the water we got that day would just be for drinking and not other purposes. Washing and other purposes would have to wait until another day."
Asha can be confident the new well will continue to deliver safe water long into the future. Like all WaterAid's projects, the community was fully involved in the project from day one. They helped build it and were trained to maintain it. Asha herself helped in the construction, as she recounted:
"When we got the new well I took part in the project by helping to dig the trench that the pipes were laid in and helping build the riser tanks. It was hard work, but I was the founding member of the water and sanitation committee and I wanted to do something to help us get safe, clean water."
You can help empower more women like Asha by
making a donation to WaterAid.
Please make a donation to help more communities in Africa, Asia and Central America gain access to clean water and sanitation.
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