Nothing irks someone as opening a tap to find dirty water flowing out. That will most likely mean that you have to wait for some time before you can do whatever you want to do. The only thing that one can do is that they do not have to drink that water or be forced to cook with it. Yet in some of the poorest countries, this is a common sight and the water is not at their convenience at all. It is water that is flowing. Pity those who have to go with plastic containers to scoop it out and use it for their day to day needs.
It has become recognized as the easiest way in which numerous diseases spread dangerous diseases to both children & adults. Access to clean water in slums becomes a major challenge when you are in developing cities and the local authorities are managed. It is even worse in slums where piped water for many remains a dream. Many of these people have been forced to rely on communal water points that become mismanaged within a short time and they are back to square 1 only that they now have a tap. Water flows freely from a broken down pipe and they have to reach out with their containers in order to collect it and get something to use it for their daily uses. Rather compared to the rural areas, the slum areas are worse since lack of running water will mostly mean that sewage is also an issue.
When water comes into contact with sewage, the resulting scenario becomes one of diseases leading to death which will mainly affect young kids. By getting clean running water, this can be eliminated but these water points also require to be managed well. Rural areas are not also escapees from such scenarios only that in such areas the two main burdens are watering for the animals and the great distances walked before once can find clean water.
I had the privilege of living to a downstream area and nearby was a major river that ran into the Indian Ocean. The river was a mighty one and would often flood when it rained to a murky brown colour. At such times, my mother would always warn me against going anywhere that river. It was only much later after I moved to Nairobi that I got to understand why I could not go near the river. The river that gave Nairobi its name was always a blackish colour. It was a river that could have been the envy of all but it had been reduced to a moving garbage dump although with time, it had ground to a halt. Industries had also made the situation very bad indeed by dumping all their chemicals and unused raw materials into the river.
Those who were downstream were the ones who suffered. This is not only a problem that is confined to Nairobi but is also happening to other cities and countries. While in the rural areas, people have to go and get water at the streams and rivers, it is much more likely that they will be picking up a poisonous substance or disease. This can be avoided if only there would be stricter regulation to ensure that industries, especially tertiary ones, are discouraged from dumping waste into rivers. The best thing, even though it would take ages, would be to have piped water to the homes of the residents. This would have been treated and purified at professionally set up water treatment areas.
Fetching water from the rivers also poses some challenges especially in rivers where there are crocodiles. Kenya’s Tana River district is dissected into two by the Tana River that is infested with crocodiles. The number of casualties recorded when women had gone to get water is quite high. It would be quite easy to say that killing such crocodiles is the best thing to do & get rid of the crocodiles but these form part of the ecosystem. Getting piped water will help alleviate some of the problems for these people. When you also consider that some of Africa’s rural areas are hilly, there is the danger of rolling back to the bottom of the valley when carrying water.
It is high time that communities came together and started looking for a solution to this while working with government agencies.