I thought about whisking him out of the bathtub and plopping him on the toilet—all soapy and sopping wet—but obviously it was too late. He strained for just a moment before I saw some floaters emerge amidst the bubbles.
At the risk of spoiling your lunch, I’ll tell you that my toddler is going through a poop-in-the-tub phase.
This particular time it happened before I was able to wash him, so with a frustrated sigh I pulled him out of the tub, drained all that now-stinky water, cleaned up the area, refilled the tub again, and plunked my boy back in for what I prayed was a proper bath—sans number two.
In that moment, I wasn’t thinking about the water; I was focused on the need to clean the dirt behind my son’s ears and to wash the yogurt out of his fine blonde hair.
Only now does it occur to me that in the sole act of refilling that bathtub I used ten times more water than the average African family uses in an entire day.
The Truth About Water
According to the nonprofit WaterAid, 768 million people around the world live without safe water to drink.
That’s a big number. So big, in fact, that our eyes just might glaze over it. So let me put it another way: Roughly 1 in 10 people in the world are without safe water.
What’s more, even those who can access water often have to work for it. People in developing countries walk on average 4 miles per day for water, carrying it back at a weight of about 40 pounds.
The people doing all this water-hauling? Usually women and girls. One U.N. report estimated that, put together, women in sub-Saharan Africa spend 200 million hours per day collecting water, or 40 billion hours per year.
Put It In Perspective
As gross as it is, it’s also kind of funny that my son keeps pooping in the tub. With a laugh I’ll call down to my husband to come quick because we’ve had another bathtub blowout, or he’ll lightheartedly text me to say that our son’s bowels are again at the mercy of the warm water.
But I share these chuckles with you to make this important point: The fact that I can drain our tub and refill it again without batting an eye is a privilege.
I didn’t hesitate to do it. I didn’t think about the 2,000 children who die each day from unsafe water and poor sanitation. I didn’t walk miles and miles for that precious H2O.
All I did was turn on the faucet and wait for gallons upon clean gallons to come pouring out.
If only it were that easy for everyone.
Maybe you’re reading this post while sipping on a bottle of clean, pure water.
Maybe you’re thinking about the times you’ve drained and refilled your own tub after a toddler mishap like mine.
Or maybe you’re contemplating your own #waterstory—a time when you realized the importance of clean water in your life or the lives of others.
World Water Day is March 22. Will you be moved to do something?
Share your story.
It’s not too late to blog, Tweet, or Facebook post about your #waterstory, in the name of raising awareness about the importance of clean water for everyone.
I learned about WaterAid’s work through fellow blogger Jennifer Barbour, who is currently in Nicaragua representing Mom Bloggers for Social Good and the Global Team of 200.
You can follow Jennifer’s journey through her blog and a special World Water Day Twitter chat tomorrow (Friday, March 21st) at 1pm ET.
Take even more action.
We can’t claim ignorance any more.
As WaterAid Media & Communications Officer Alanna Imbach so eloquently said:
“When it comes to breaking the cycle of poverty, we’ve all got a role to play, and if there’s one thing we know, it’s that it all starts with water.”
So what more can you do?
- Tell all your friends and family about the importance of clean water for everyone across the globe, perhaps by connecting them with WaterAid via Facebook or Twitter.
- Tell Congress to support the Paul Simon Water for the World Act.
- Birthday coming up? Instead of a new top or gift certificate for a manicure, ask for the gift of clean water and sanitation for families in developing countries.
- Donate some of your own time or financial resources to those nonprofits working tirelessly to end the water crisis.