We’ve been living in Rwanda with no running water for about 4 months now. We collect water from a well that’s about 100 yards away and down a flight of stairs from our apartment. We have several 3 gallon buckets that we fill with water and take up to our apartment. Living in Oregon, water isn’t something we thought about a lot. It seemed like an unlimited resource that’s easily accessible, but to most of the world it’s not. 783 million people don’t have access to clean water. Water is a huge part of daily life here; collecting water, purifying water and praying for rain are all daily activities.
We are so blessed that the base has a UV filtration system in the dining room area where we get all of our drinking water from. We fill up water pitchers and bring them to our apartment. We end up carrying a lot of drinking water throughout the day. Before we leave the base we usually fill up our water bottle so that we don’t have to buy water while we’re out. We use drinking water to brush our teeth too.
We take bucket showers with about a gallon of water each time we shower. In our apartment we have a shower room that has a large plastic container inside that we fill up with water about three times a week, then we fill up our shower buckets from there. We don’t mind bucket showers, although a hot conventional shower does sound really great sometimes.
We do our laundry by hand in buckets. There are laundry lines outside that everyone living at the base share. We fill up three buckets with water, we add soap to the first one and the second two are for rinsing. We really like doing laundry like this, it’s relaxing and a nice time to talk with people and hang out with our neighbors.
We mop with a bucket and a rag, sometimes it’s hard with all of the dust to keep things clean with limited water. We can’t wear shoes inside and I end up mopping our porch a lot.
We are so lucky to have the amount of water that we do have because it rains a lot in Rwanda, especially compared to neighboring countries. Water is something that as Americans we often take for granted. Since being here, I’ve looked into some statistics and researched some things about about water. Here are some random things that I found…
- 319 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are without access to improved reliable drinking water sources
- Two thirds or about 102 million of the 159 million people still using surface water live in Sub-Saharan Africa
- 1 in 9 people worldwide do not have access to safe and clean drinking water
- The United Nations estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water; the same as an entire year’s labor in all of France!
- Worldwide 1 out of every 5 deaths in children under 5 years old is due to a water-related disease
- A “bucket shower” uses about 1.8 gallons of water. The average American shower uses 17.2 gallons of water
- The average washing machine uses 4o gallons of water for one load
Water is a limited resource that we are quickly depleting.