On March 22nd, World Bicycle Relief joins the global community in observing World Water Day. World Water Day is about bringing awareness to the plight of 663 million people who live without access to safe, clean water nearby. More importantly, this day is about taking action.
Schoolchildren & Women Labor for Water
In rural Africa, schoolchildren spend several hours trekking to and from wells to provide water for their families. It can take eight hours per trip to collect water that only lasts a day or two. The basic need for water coupled with the distance spent walking to wells makes it challenging to focus on learning. For a child who lacks access to water, an education and any future opportunities become secondary to survival.
Women also spend a majority of their time collecting water. In surveys from 45 developing countries, two-thirds of households have women and girls collect water if a water source is not nearby. Women walk 10-15 kilometers (6-10 miles) per day to carry 15 liters (4 gallons) on their shoulders or heads. According to the World Bank, women represent 40% of the global labor force, yet in Sub-Saharan Africa, 40 billion working hours (equivalent to a year’s worth of labor in France) are lost to water collection annually.
The time lost to water collection prevents women and children from attending school and pursuing income opportunities. It also restricts the time for family care and community life that are important in any culture. Quality of life improves when there is less distance to hike for water. For example, in Tanzania, school attendance increased by 12% when water was available.
How Buffalo Bicycles Provide Access to Clean Water
With Buffalo Bicycles, students and their families can take easier, shorter trips to safe wells. The carrying capacity of the Buffalo Bicycle enables these students to carry more water than on foot. Students and families participating in our programs are also able to transport water in a way that is less exhausting.
David Zvipore of World Vision records the household benefits of our Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP) in Zimbabwe. Zvipore took note of the many students using their Buffalo Bicycle to fetch water. He explains the massive impact the program has had on day-to-day activities:
“BEEP lessens the burden of household chores for children. It means this girl can now arrive home early from school. She can fetch water in time to get home for evening household chores. It usually takes her up to sunset to complete. She now has time for evening school work. She is also better rested and refreshed.”
With access to clean water by bike, the benefits to children, women, and families are exponential. The immediate benefits: improved household hygiene, better food safety, and the prevention of waterborne sickness and disease. The transformative benefits are that students and families have more time and energy to thrive. Less time spent walking for water means more time for school, economic opportunities and future welfare.
TAKE ACTION: YOU CAN PROVIDE ACCESS TO WATER WITH BICYCLES
World Bicycle Relief provides life-changing transportation to women and children across the globe. Our programs empower rural students, women and families in developing countries through access. In our education programs, 70% of students who receive bicycles are girls. By mobilizing students with bicycles, you can provide access to clean, life-giving water.