Field staff from Thirst Project gives presentation on water crisis in predominantly rural regions

Sara D., Section Editor

Over 300 million people in Africa are concerned about where and how they will get access to drinking water. They spend their days trekking for water due to the lack of easy access to better water sources. This burden falls primarily on women and children, especially young girls, who have to journey 3.7 miles daily for a small amount of water. Generally, the water is hazardous and contains many diseases such as cholera.

Evan Wesley, the Vice President for Student Activation for the Thirst Project, delivered a Zoom webinar for ASD’s Water for Life and IMPACT clubs on November 18 regarding the devastating effect of the lack of clean drinking water on children’s education. The Thirst Project is a charitable organization that strives to address the worldwide water crisis by installing freshwater wells in underdeveloped regions in need of clean water with the involvement of teenagers.

The Thirst Project aims to provide ubiquitous availability to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene to prevent waterborne illnesses and facilitate education for children. In rural populations, clean water is extremely important for efficiently treating HIV. Even if a person with HIV has access to healthcare, if they are obliged to drink unclean water from polluted sources, the infections in the water would kill them faster than HIV itself.

Waterborne illnesses, according to Evan Wesley, cause more entirely avoidable children deaths yearly than malaria and HIV combined. Young children’s immune systems are often not strong enough to overcome illnesses such as cholera and other waterborne illnesses.

Students’ education and attendance rates diminish as a consequence of the scarcity of clean water. Consider this: every day, women and young girls walk 6-8 hours daily to carry 40 pounds of contaminated water. Too often, children waste precious class time walking vast and unsafe pathways to obtain water. They often obtain water from polluted sources and are required to lift heavy buckets on their little bodies, impacting their spinal structure as they grow. Many girls are unable to attend school since their primary task in their families, gathering water, necessitates hours of daily travel. As a result of this responsibility, women’s access to school is restricted.

Evan Wesley told a remarkable story of a teacher who would walk for hours daily to collect 5 gallons of water for her 20 students. For comparison, an average person uses around 100 gallons of water per day.

People all across the world point to a lack of education as one of the most significant barriers to eradicating poverty. Water and sanitation concerns must be tackled in order to increase education, gender equality, and health. With easy worldwide access to water, schools can once again be advantageous to society and catalysts for a brighter future by lowering sickness and meeting students’ fundamental requirements of water and sanitation.