A long way for a drop of water

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original
Kariya Mohamed pushes her wheelbarrow with two jerrycans on the way to her shelter. © Photo by Albert González Farran

By Albert González Farran

Kariya Mohamed Abbakar, a 50 year old woman from Jebel Saiey, North Darfur, pushes her wheelbarrow each week to the nearest water point in the Abu Shouk camp for internally displaced people, where she has been living for the past 10 years.

The water point is a long walk from her shelter in the camp. Because of the labour involved and the cost of the water, she and her family must limit their consumption of water to 80 litres per week, while a typical person in a developed nation elsewhere in the world would use, on average, 400 litres of water per day.

Kariya does the work without complaining but points to the difficulty of the weekly collection, and notes that it is taking a toll on her physically. She concedes she would like to have a water point that is closer to her home and that makes water available at lower prices. "My family needs twice as much water as we currently have," she says, noting that summer is approaching in Darfur, signalling that the quality of water will get worse even as the prices will increase.

World Water Day is commemorated annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of fresh water and advocating for the sustainable management of fresh water resources. Each year, those who commemorate World Water Day do so under a specific theme, with this year’s theme being to reflect on the International Year of Water Cooperation.

In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development recommended an international day to celebrate fresh water. The General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.