When I visited Ethiopia last February, we visited 2 villages at different stages of dealing with a water crisis. I shared a little bit about the first village in my previous Blog post (Thirsty). The 2nd village we visited is futher along their journey with Friendship Support Association (FSA), Tearfunds partner in the area. In this village, they have been given assistance to install and maintain a Borehole in community to provide fresh, clean water.
In any part of the World, access to clean water is vital. In an environment like Afar, it is beyond essential. The heat in Afar sucks the energy out of you. The dryness is unbearable. So much of the landscape is parched. I really cannot write a description that does justice to the harshness of Afar.
Communities like this village in Afar are lucky (although it would be unfair to make it sound so arbitrary). Working with organisations like Tearfund and FSA are allowing these communities to develop resilience in the face of the negative impact Climate Change is having on their lives.
The impact of having access to fresh, clean water in abundance is life changing for those who live here. Seeing the difference between this village and the previous village we visited was staggering. Where everyone in the village we visited without a Borehole were so lethargic, covered in dust, joyless, it is so obvious from being with them that life is hard…..
Those in near the borehole, where there is an abundance of water, are the opposite. They are so full of life, vibrant, joyful. The kids are full of life and so playful. Because there is such an abundance of water, they can play in it, they can enjoy it. They do not have to save every precious drop. There is water to wash themselves, their clothes, their dishes. They can get plenty of water for their livestock. They can drink freely and not worry about not having enough or getting sick from the water. There is also no need to travel for hours through dangerous terrain to collect the water.
Seeing the difference water made to a community was so striking in this setting. It’s all well and good saying that water is vital and that water is life, but to actually get to see how much something as “simple” as a borehole can make to a community is striking. It was really striking to visit the 2 communities and see so clearly the impact that having easy access to clean water has made.
We are ridiculously lucky in the UK with how easy water is to access. Especially here in Scotland. We often complain about the weather and how wet our climate is, and it has changed noticeably over the last few decades, but water is not something many want for in the UK.
We are so lucky here in the UK. Not just that we have such easy access to water, but that we have a land filled with lush plantlife. It is heartbreaking to see the way that some people treat our land though. When was the last time you went anywhere in the UK without seeing rubbish lying around? When I go out taking landscape images, I frequently end up picking up rubbish that other have left lying around. A couple of years ago I camped on top of The Fiddler, a fairly remote mountain in Assynt. There were plastic bottles and crisp packets scattered around the summit……
I sometime feel a bit hopeless when I come across situations like that. If people can’t even stop themselves throwing rubbish away when surrounded by beauty that they can see themselves spoiling, how are we going to encourage people to take steps to stop Climate Change when they don’t see it’s impact?
That’s part of the reason that I engage in this kind of photography. I’m passionate about sharing the stories of those affected by issues like Climate Change – especially when their story is not being told already. Too often, those with the smallest voice in the World are the ones most impacted by decisions made by Governments, Large Corporations and the less bothered elements of society.
Look at the difference in the faces of these kids and the faces of the kids in my previous post. The difference between them is access to water. Something that so many of us take for granted. It is heartbreaking that something as basic as easy access to clean water is a struggle.
Let me leave you with some startling facts about Water:
- Around the World, Women and Girls spend an estimated 200 Million Hours Hauling water.
- Every day, around 800 Children under the age of 5 die from diarrhoea attributed to poor water and sanitation
- 1 in 9 people living on Earth today lack basic drinking water access
- 2.3 Billion people live without access to basic sanitation
And here’s a quote from water.org, one of the NGO’s tackling the Worldwide water crisis, about the disproportionate impact the Water crisis has on women:
“Women are disproportionately affected by the water crisis, as they are often responsible for collecting water. This takes time away from work, school and caring for family. The lack of water and sanitation locks women in a cycle of poverty.
Empowering women is critical to solving the water crisis. When women have access to safe water at home, they can pursue more beyond water collection and their traditional roles. They have time to work and add to their household income.” (https://water.org/our-impact/water-crisis/)
Here are a few places where you can find out more about the Water Crisis on Earth and how to get involved: