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Water

Water is said to be an indispensable commodity and life would be impossible

without it. People can live for a few days without water (Nealer, 2009:74). For the

household, a day would be terribly difficult without this life enabling commodity, for

example, people couldn’t brush their teeth or wash themselves. The human water

requirements are far more than it can be expected. In fact water comprises fifty to

seventy percent of the adult weight. Water is not only for food, it is a chemically defined

molecule which constitutes a core nutrient essential for health and survival of the human

beings. The human body has no provision for water shortages as can only be highly

compromised without water (Wenhold and Faber, 2009: 61). It is clear from the above

information that water is an indispensable commodity for human beings. How would the

situation be if there was no water in the households? Everything would be dirty in the

house and drinks will be no more. This would be a situation where it won’t be possible

for one to prepare ones best meal.


Sources of Water and their Accessibility

Drinking water is a basic requirement for life and a determinant of standard of

living. Up to 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by water which is either surface or

ground water (UNESCO, 2008). Surface water is water in rivers, lakes or fresh water

wetland. Surface water is naturally replenished by precipitation and lost through

discharge to the oceans, evaporation, evapo-transpiration and sub-surface seepage.

Sub-surface water or groundwater, is fresh water located in the pore space of soil and

rocks. It is also water that is flowing within aquifers below the water table (World Bank,

2011).

Water resources are very useful in various sectors such as; agricultural,

industrial, household and recreational activities. Virtually all of these human uses

require fresh water. 97.5% of all water on Earth is salty leaving only 2.5% as fresh water

(UNDP,

2003). Fresh water is a renewable resource, yet the world's supply of clean, fresh

water is steadily decreasing. Water demand already exceeds supply in many parts of

the world (Chartres & Varma, 2010) and as the world population continues to rise,

demand of water also rises.

Less than 1% of the world's fresh water (0.007% of all water on earth) is

accessible for direct human use (Gleick, 2000). This is the water found in lakes, rivers,

reservoirs and those underground sources that are shallow enough to be tapped at an

affordable cost.
Water collection from the source water supply

In most developing countries, women are responsible for the collection of water

(Sobsey, 2002). The work involved in fetching the water may differ in each region, it

may vary according to the specific season, it depends on the time spent queuing at the

source, the distance of the household from the source and the number of household

members for which the water must be collected (WHO, 1996b; WHO, 1996c). Water for

domestic use is collected either by dipping the container inside the water supply

collecting rainwater from a roof catchment system or by using different types of pumps

connected to the water supply system (Sobsey, 2002). Then transportation of the water

from the source water supply could be either by a wheelbarrow, a donkey cart, a motor

vehicle , using a rolling system or by carrying the container by hand or on the head

(CDC, 2001). A common practice often seen in rural areas was the use of leaves or

branches with leaves to stop water slopping out during transit in wide-neck storage and

transport containers (Sutton and Mubiana, 1989). Consequently, a study by Sutton and

Mubiana (1989) has showed that these leaves can be an additional source of coliform

bacteria to the drinking water.