By E-Green Life, Addis Ababa
What are you made of?
Science says about 75% of our body is water. Basically we are more water than flesh and bone. Water (in terms of blood) transports the oxygen and all the nutrients throughout our body. It, as well, facilitates every system in our body from ingestion to excretion. Without it, we have no body system and no life can exist in this planet.
How much is your glass of water worth?
The value of water depends on where you get your glass of water. If you find it from a place where drinkable water is as rare as diamonds, it is simply priceless. If you are fortunate enough to have water nearby it depends on the quality and the place you get it. Simply half a liter of clean drinkable water could cost you anywhere from 30 birr to a penny, depending on whether it is the expensive bottled water or tap water.
However the worth of a glass of water is nothing when you compare it to the labeled price. Water is one of the most scare resources we have on this planet. Worldwide rapid growth of population and deforestation do contribute immensely to the shortage of water. So much so that we cannot help but realize that water is the liquid diamond we are consuming every day.
According to Water Aid Ethiopia, over 18,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in Ethiopia.
As World Economic Forum,Global Risks 2015 Report; water crisis is the number one global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation), as announced by the World Economic Forum in January 2015.
How far would you go to get potable water?
A fortunate enough people have access to potable water within a 25 meter radius. That means you have it in your home and working area. If you are like other 663 million people in the world you have to go up to hundreds kilometer to fetch a bucket of water. Access to drinkable water requires natural resource availability and infrastructure to avail you of this convenience. Considering urban areas of Ethiopian water coverage, with all the shortage of water, reaches about 75% of the population. The rapid urbanization growth may require up to much more potable water. On the other hand, the rural area coverage only reaches 49% of the population. The water shortage and the gap between the demand for potable water and the reserve tell you how scarce it is.
Is our natural resource abundant or scarce?
Unfortunately nothing is as abundant as we think it is. You may take water, gas, oil and even soil and stones. Nature requires us to use these natural resources as efficiently as possible, so that generations may be able to enjoy these same resources for centuries to come.
According to Africa Water Atlas 2010, the continent has only about 9 per cent of global freshwater resources but 15 per cent of the global population. How we utilize our resources makes a real difference as to how we can sustainably use our limited natural resources.
When we consider usage of water, it would not be possible to retain fresh water without reusing and recycling.
The global water distribution shows that more than 96% of available water is saline. The proportion of fresh water available to support human life is less than 30%, out of which more than 70% is not readily available as fresh water. Shortage of safe water has its own multiple consequences like lack of sanitation, water related health problems and water security.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF joint MDGs Assessment report, one out of ten people lack access to safe water; a figure which comes out to about 663 million people globally who don’t have access to safe drinking water.
Water Aid stated, about 42 million people in Ethiopia do not have access to safe water which makes it about 40% of the population is living without access to safe water.
Does affording mean abusing?
Just because we are able to pay our water bill does not mean we should abuse it. The water shortage we in Addis Ababa face every now and then, can tell us there is a point that we cannot afford to misuse it.
Just because we enjoy our abundant water supply now is no guarantee that we will not run out of water in the near future. If we don’t use it efficiently, we are not far from lacking the natural resource that we so desperately depend on.
Suppose that we don’t have consistent water supply and yet we can afford to pay the bill which does not grant us access to the water.
The other day, I watched as my thoughtful helper washed dishes in the sink. I always minimize the water pressure from the bottom valve believing that it causes misuse of precious water. As I walked by, a miniature fountain at the sink caught my attention. When I approached her and asked if she has increased the pressure that I had lowered. “Yes,” she answered, “I did.” She said something to me to thinking, “Unless it is on high pressure and sounding like the upstairs shower, I don’t feel like I can clean the kitchen utensils.”
I was amused and confounded by her justification and wondered how many other people shared her perspective.
Once more, I found myself explaining how water can become scarce as I returned the valve to low pressure.
What does using water efficiency actually mean to you? What can you do as an individual?
Simple ways to utilize water resources efficiently …
· Check for leaks in pipes, hoses and, faucets. Leaks outside the house may not seem as bad since they're not as visible. But they can be just as wasteful as leaks indoors. Check frequently to keep them drip-free.
· Turn down your water pressure from the bottom regulator valve.
· Think twice before fully flushing your toilet: it may not be necessary to flush up to nine liters of water every time you visited the toilet. If you have two buttons on your toilet flush, whenever possible try to avoid flushing the bigger push button. If you only have one push button toilet, try to press it softly so you can reduce the amount of water you are flushing.
If one can refresh a toilet with a liter of water it may save up to 1,000 liters per month. If one household has five family members they may save up to 5,000 liters which is 5 cubic meters of water.
· Simple reusing may help you save unnecessary costs on your water bill and resource wastage. Reusing can be using the grey water from your washing machine to clean your home, compound or car. You can also use non detergent used water for gardening.
· Rain water is perfect for conserving for later use. You can place a large container under a gutter to collect rain water off of your rooftop.
· Turn off the tap whenever you don’t use the water: when you brush your teeth or in between washing different things.
· Take a shorter shower. A shower can take anywhere between 6 and 25 liters per minute.
· Fix all dripping taps. A dripping tap can waste 15 liters of water a day or 5,500 liters of water a year.
· Pay attention to unaccounted for or wasted water before your water meter. This is the water that you see flowing out on the roads and sidewalks.
· Water conservation comes naturally when everyone in the family is aware of its importance. Parents should take some time to teach children some of the simple water-saving methods around the home which can make a big difference.
A better understanding of how to utilize our limited natural resource like water is crucial before facing a shortage in the near future. Government, water suppliers and organizations working on water and media have a responsibility to inform the public and individuals. What is the best way to reach out to people and get them to care? How can we create a sensitive and responsible society that takes ownership of their limited resource? Send us ideas you feel would work on reaching our citizens.
· World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programmed (JMP). (2015) Progress on Drinking Water and Water and Sanitation, 2015 Update and MDG Assessment.
· United States Census Bureau Estimates. (2015).
· World Economic Forum. (2015). Global Risk 2015 Report.