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Lack of clean water is perhaps the greatest contributing factor to the crisis of poverty and sickness in Africa

A mother in rural Africa walks for several hours with an infant strapped to her back to a communal watering hole to collect water for her and her family. She returns with a heavy jug in each hand, exhausted. This same water that she collected for her family will be the cause of the death for three of her children, one from cholera and two from typhoid. Year after year she returns to the same watering hole, not knowing that what seems like the only source of life within miles is actually death. Even if she knew, it would make no difference... it is her only option​.

The water problem in Africa is multi-faceted and complex. As time goes on, the drought conditions are worsening and becoming more frequent causing famine, livestock death, and displacement of people. On top of this, rampant disease and high death rates, primarily among children, are being caused by contaminated water sources. In Kenyan rural communities, women and children are responsible for collecting and transporting water, often walking up to 5 miles while carrying between 40 and 80 pounds of water. The daily responsibility of collecting water leaves little or no time for women to pursue income generating activities or for children to attend school, all leading to the cycle of poverty. 


  • 115 people in Africa die every hour from diseases linked to poor sanitation, poor hygiene and contaminated water.

  • 35% of Water and Sanitation aid commitment on MDG goes to Africa with Sub-Saharan having 27% of the financial allocation. 

  • In Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, more than a quarter of the population spends more than half an hour per round trip to collect water.

  • Africa’s rising population is driving demand for water and accelerating the degradation of water resources. By mid-2011, Africa’s population (excluding the northern-most states) was around 838 million and its average natural rate of increase was 2.6% per year, compared to the world average of 1.2%. By one estimate, Africa's population will grow to 1,245 million by 2025 and to 2,069 million by 2050.

  • The average American family uses 300 gallons of water per day. In sub-Saharan Africa, one round trip to collect 5 gallons of water is 33 minutes on average. You’d have to do that 60 times to get the average amount of water an American household uses. That’s 33 hours of collecting water.

  • The average American household flushes 72 gallons of water down the toilet. A Kenyan would have to make 13 1/2 trips with a 20 liter container to gather that much water. 

  • Based upon the average walking speed of 3.1 mph, a Kenyan would have to walk 102.3 miles to get the water an average American household uses in a day. · ·

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