Sunday, October 14, 2012

Shot@Life Uganda Trip Log: Oct 14 Water thoughts

(10 days 'till we leave)

I’m thinking about water today. Not only because it was falling from the sky in buckets earlier, but because 1) It’s a serious problem in Uganda and 2) I did a long run in my ½ marathon training and had a lot of time to think about it while wondering where to take a water break.

Sometimes people ask me why I work on global poverty when poverty is so bad in the United States. Well, first, I actually do lobby on domestic poverty issues as well (mainly Head Start and SNAP benefits aka food stamps). But to help demonstrate the difference in scale of need, sometimes I use the example of clean water.

Where I live near Chicago, most people – even in poverty – have running water in ther home if they have a home. Plus, there are generally places that we can get free, sanitary water for free with no waiting almost everywhere in public. On my run this morning, I could even be picky about where I got my water. My favorite water fountain in the park was covered in box elder bugs. Ew. So I just jogged over to a building where I popped in, filled up my bottle for free, and jogged away. No sweat…er…well, you know what I mean.

But in Uganda, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the average distance to the main source of drinking water from one’s home is almost ½ mile with an average waiting time of 27 minutes. In many areas of the world, the distance and the waiting times are much worse and young girls are often tasked with fetching heavy jugs of water for the whole family along dangerous roads. They face not only dangers of traffic or geography, but also of molestation and rape. These brave girls cannot go to school because of this important family duty. If they don’t bring the water, they will get sick along with their siblings and parents and possibly die.

We shouldn’t turn our backs on the need at home, but it’s good to keep in perspective the number of people living without basic human needs. It’s easy to forget that almost 1/2 the planet - over three billion people- live on less than $2.50 a day. ( The great news is that we are making amazing progress in getting basic needs provided to the people of Uganda and many other countries. Uganda is reported to be “on track” for Millennium Development target 7.C, which is to “Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.”

I’ll drink to that!

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