It is a hard question for most of us to answer. I had no idea. 20 litres? 40 litres? Is that too much? Too little? I guessed about 50 litres.
Water is something that those of us lucky enough to be living in the developed world think little about. Why would we? We can go to the tap and immediately have access to drinking quality hot or cold running water.
I looked it up and on average Australians use approximately 277 litres of water a day (Melbourne water 2007). I did a tally:
6 toilet flushes – 56 litres (9 litres per flush)
8 hand washes/ teeth brushing – 140 litres (15 litres per minute)
26 minute shower – 364 litres (14 litres per minute)
3 cups of tea – 2 litres
drinking water – 1 litre
cooking – 4 litres
Total 564 litres
564 litres and I didn’t even do any laundry or wash any dishes.
Can you imagine having to carry that much water to your home every day. For millions of women and children this is a reality. According to the UN’s Human Development Report The weight of water that women in Africa and Asia carry on their heads is commonly 20kg.
Obviously women wouldn’t carry 564 litres to their homes every day. Water in these communities is a valuable commodity. They save every precious drop for reuse and cut down water wastage. No 26 minute showers! The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council states the average person in the developing world uses only 10 litres of water every day for ALL their drinking, washing and cooking.
What would you be willing to do to save the time and effort to carry all this water? Maybe brush your teeth at the community water point. That would save less than a litre. Maybe have a shower standing at the community tap? Maybe give up showering almost completely?
An alarming statistic from WaterAid Nepal shows only 37% wash hands with water and only 12% soap. It is alarming because around the world one child dies every 20 seconds from diarrhoea caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. Up to 47% of these cases could be solved with clean water and soap (WaterAid International).
I am actually truly embarrassed by the amount of water I wasted today. I am even more embarrassed to admit I probably wasted this much water everyday last year. I guess the point of Blog Action Day is to get us all thinking about these things and what we can do. I am not sure yet what I can do to help others with their water problems but at least now I am aware. And tomorrow I will try to stick to cut down to 4 minute showers as recommended by target 155. What are you going to do?
Check out the Speak Up For Change Blog for more posts on water from bloggers around the world.