The Worth Of Water When The Well Is Dry

Imagine you’re thirsty and need a drink. How far do you walk to get that cold filtered water from your kitchen faucet?  How long do you go thirsty before rehydrating your body? How much do you pay to buy a 12-pack of refreshing bottled water?  And how much do you dread transferring that heavy case of water from your car to your home? Do you have the answers? Now, try to guess what and how long it takes for a Southern Sudanese refugee in Uganda to stay hydrated.

While we are lucky enough to access water straight from the comfort of our own homes, South Sudanese refugees have to hike in the hot sun each day to carry a limited amount of water back to their loved ones. 

 Young girl carrying three jugs of water.

Young girl carrying three jugs of water.

Kristin Kohler, a One Light Global volunteer, reflects back on her time in Uganda, remembering the crowded stations peppered throughout the camps.  South Sudanese refugees in Bidi Bidi walk several miles and wait hours to fill up their containers with water.  Finally, once the cracked and contaminated jugs are full, they must walk back to their families with gallons to carry.

Did you know the average American family uses 88 gallons of water each day[i]?  How much water are we really using out of those 88 gallons and how much are we wasting?  While we take for granted the amount of water we use and consume everyday, refugees carry the emotional and physical weight of living with a shortage of clean water. Not only is the water difficult to access miles away, but is also scarce—refugees occasionally go 2-3 days without a drink[ii].

 At One Light Global fundraiser in San Jose, California, girls and boys attempt to relate to refugee children by carrying a bucket on their heads.

At One Light Global fundraiser in San Jose, California, girls and boys attempt to relate to refugee children by carrying a bucket on their heads.

Although organizations are taking action to improve the water conditions in Uganda, more progress needs to be made in order to create a difference. In Bidi Bidi alone, there are around 300,000 refugees desperate for water[iii].  Water is only filtered from the Nile River and brought to a handful of refugee camps through several Red Cross trucks[iv]; however, these trucks can only hold so much. The international aid response is failing to meet South Sudanese refugees’ basic needs; therefore, refugees are suffering each and every day. If there were better ways for reducing water shortage and fetching safe drinking water, families would not need to spend their whole day obtaining necessities required to live.  One Light Global incorporates rain catchment technology into each new roof that it builds in attempts to save water and to promote innovative technology usage in finding solutions for the problems refugees face.

 Young girl balancing yellow jug on top of her head; a leaf is placed between her head and the jug for comfort and support.

Young girl balancing yellow jug on top of her head; a leaf is placed between her head and the jug for comfort and support.

While we take ten-minute showers, leave the faucet running while brushing our teeth, and drench our lawns with sprinklers, refugees are struggling day in and day out to get their basic necessities met. Can we tune our minds to be conscious of our water usage, keeping in mind the plight of the refugees? Can we incorporate this awareness into reducing our own water usage?

 Young boy places lollipop between his teeth while supporting the heavy jug with both head and hands.

Young boy places lollipop between his teeth while supporting the heavy jug with both head and hands.

Finally, how can we help provide refugees with the basic necessities of life?  Ultimately, all clean water comes from the same global well—though our portion of the well may seem full, are we taking away from those who have more genuine need for it? Is it time to find ways to give back?


 

i https://www.epa.gov/watersense/statistics-and-facts
ii https://drc.ngo/news/drc-provides-clean-water-for-south-sudanese-refugees-in-uganda
iii https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/apr/03/uganda-at-breaking-point-bidi-bidi-becomes-worlds-largest-refugee-camp-south-sudan
iv http://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2017/03/24/in-pictures-delivering-safe-water-in-uganda/