In nearly 100 countries around the world, the second Sunday in May marks the day we celebrate and thank moms. Some mothers will get flowers, many will open cards and others will receive phone calls. In fact, more calls are placed on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year.
On this Mother’s Day I propose a special thanks to the women who give their families access to safe water and sanitation and with it so much more – more time for their families, more possibilities to earn an income and more opportunities for a bright future. Safe water and a toilet at home may seem like a given to people in developed countries, but one out of nine people in the world lack access to safe water, and many more — one out of every three — lack access to a toilet.
Imagine your mother or sister walking 3.7 miles each day to collect water. That’s the average distance a woman or girl living in Africa will walk today to find water for her family.
Finding water for drinking, cooking and bathing is a time-consuming job, one that generally falls to women and girls. Imagine your mother or sister walking 3.7 miles each day to collect water. That’s the average distance a woman or girl living in Africa will walk today to find water for her family. Covering that distance is time taken away from a job, school or caring for family.
Finding a place to go also presents a problem for mothers and sisters. Collectively, women and girls spend 266 million hours every day looking for a place to relieve themselves. They often wait until dark to walk someplace where they can’t easily be seen. This isn’t private and puts girls at risk of attack.
Women around the world are finding their own solutions to the water crisis. They are taking out small, affordable loans to get access to safe water and sanitation at home. They are paving a path out of poverty for themselves and their families.
One such woman is Rose, a single mom who lives in south-central Uganda. Rose lacked access to safe water for her family and the small restaurant she owned. Running both a restaurant and raising a family left Rose little time to collect water. And she didn’t want to send her teenaged daughter Maggie to do so, either. So Rose paid unemployed locals to find and bring water to her. Or she bought water from high-priced vendors. This was an expensive and temporary fix to her water problem. Rose found a much less costly and more sustainable answer by securing a small, easy-to-repay loan through WaterCredit, a solution by Water.org that puts microfinance tools to use to solve the global water and sanitation crisis. Rose used her loan to install a rain storage tank with a tap on her property.
“Instead of paying money to a neighbor or to a vendor, I can use the extra money for other things, because we have water right here now,” says Rose.
That extra money goes, in part, to Maggie’s education. The high-school girl dreams of becoming nurse. It’s an opportunity Maggie has due to her mom’s willingness to take out a small loan to solve her own water and sanitation problem.
So on this Mother’s Day, let’s thank and celebrate moms like Rose, a mother who understood how a water tap in the household could alter the trajectory of her life and that of her family.