Annette expertly descends the muddy slopes of the Sabwani River, yellow jerry can firmly grasped in her hand. Her two business partners form an assembly line – Annette fetches the water from the river, passing it to Irene, who then lifts it up to Metrine at the top of the ridge. Repeat. The heavy cans are then lugged to their small plot of land a 15-minute walk away and are used to water their recently planted tomato and onion crops.
26.15% of Village Enterprise business owners are engaged in crop-based businesses. In the rural villages where our business owners live, the nearest water access point can be several kilometers away. This requires that our business owners innovate to supply the water needed to keep their produce healthy.
Like Annette, Irene, and Metrine, many of our business owners walk on foot to fetch water for their crops. Others have invested in building drip irrigation systems in which a small plastic bottle is filled with water that slowly seeps out to water the crops through tiny holes that have been punched into the cap and sides. “The agricultural sector is already the largest user of water resources, accounting for roughly 70% of all freshwater withdrawals globally, and over 90% in most of the world’s least-developed countries (WWAP, 2014). Practices like efficient irrigation techniques can have a dramatic impact on reducing water demand, especially in rural areas.”
Clean water is also vital to the health of our business owners and their communities. Around the world, 748 million people lack access to clean drinking water. The sheer distance or the complete inexistence of clean drinking water makes it difficult for business owners to maintain proper sanitation and to prevent the spread of disease.
On World Water Day 2016, we want to not only recognize the challenges our business owners’ face on a daily basis but also reassert our support for the Sustainable Development Goals – water is essential for good health and well-being, ending hunger, and eradicating poverty. Join us in observing World Water Day 2016, because at the end of the day, water is essential to life.