Skip to content

How Far Would You Go For Safe Drinking Water?

2012 April 24

By Elinor Keith

Before coming to work at the EPA, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique, along the southeastern coast of Africa. I didn’t have running water, but at first the school I taught at had a well about 100 yards from my house so getting water was not a problem. It only took a little time out of my day, and I got a little exercise at the same time! After 9 months the pump broke, and they weren’t able to fix it. For the next year, the closest public well was over a kilometer away. Walking 2 kilometers for every 20 liters of water was a big drain on my time.

I was still lucky: I had enough money to hire someone to carry water for me, and as a teacher I was respected enough in the community that people would loan me wheelbarrows or even give me water if they had extra. But many people are not so lucky: UNICEF estimates that women and girls in developing countries walk an average of 6 kilometers a day for water. Even then the water they drink is often not safe. 2.2 million deaths of children are preventable through improvements in the provision of safe drinking water, basic sanitation and hygiene practices.

It’s easy to forget sometimes how fortunate we are to be able to turn a tap and have safe drinking water come out. Here at the EPA, I’m proud of the work I do analyzing drinking water data to help ensure that in the US. To promote the need for access to safe water worldwide, we’re also teaming up with the US Agency for International Development to organize an Earth Day 6K Walk for Water – to reflect the average distance a woman in a third world country must walk daily for water. If you’ll be here in Washington, DC on April 27th, please join us by registering here. No matter where you are, you can do your part for safe drinking water by conserving water in your home.

About the Author: Elinor Keith analyzes drinking water data for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Before joining the EPA, she taught high school chemistry in Mozambique for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Arman.- permalink
    April 24, 2012

    The Water Looks Important When The War End.-

    Please, try to ask to the communities, which one do they choose, the water or the war…. It’s difficult to choose the water along the leaders paranoia by the conflicts. Thanks to UNICEF, FAO, UNHCR, USAID, … that contribute to save the people…..

  2. Edgardo Berraz permalink
    April 24, 2012

    It’s a true nightmare to think than safe drinking water could stay farest than I can reach it.Is a really blessing whose who living in cities,towns or places than would be reached by this primordial element.The life without clean water is almost unthinkable.Please all of us take care over water necessity.

  3. April 25, 2012

    The Good Force be with you!

    All countries must have safe drinking water. This is UN’s responsibility: To provide clean potable water for all people.

    Live forever and prosper!

  4. Elinor Keith permalink
    April 25, 2012

    Thank you, Melvin, for your kind words.

    The UN certainly works hard to broaden access to safe drinking water and sanitation, but this problem’s too big for one group alone. There are countless non-governmental and government agencies worldwide working toward a shared goal.

  5. Elinor Keith permalink
    April 25, 2012

    Thank you all for your comments. Hopefully the leaders of the world will continue to prioritize access to safe drinking water.

  6. April 25, 2012

    When I was in the military, they taught us how to make water drinkable with some kit they gave us. I knew it was for if we were in an area where there was no drinkable water around, but I did not know that this is an issue where large groups of people live. It makes me wonder how indigenous tribes have made it so long and still are thriving despite all odds. I never really thought that cities or towns with people did not have running water. They do not really teach this stuff in the schools I have went to. I think this is something we should all know. Not only so those who do have this luxury, but so we can help do something about it. I think the nations of the world should spend less time making ridiculous negations and more time working together to make the world a better place for everyone.

    Thank you so much for the great read. It is not often that I find an article that is both enlightening and engaging at the same time.

    Thanks Again,

    Ricky Strode

  7. May 3, 2012

    Nothing should be taken for granted. Clean water, security, education, family, etc, are all precious and should not be wasted. Some are indeed luckier than others.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS