Document Type

Prospective Opinion and Commentary


In rural Uganda, dawn approaches as and a mother and daughter gather their empty jericans (3- to 5- gallon water containers), dirty pots and soiled clothing and begin their daily chores. A local ven­dor sells clean water, but at 25 cents per jerican it's too costly to buy the amount they need: the family makes less than $1 a day. So they go in search of another source, a task which can sometimes take all day. The water weighs nearly 8 pounds per gallon, and they are unable to carry enough water home to accomplish their chores so they carry out their activities at the single water source. The women spend hours washing and drying the clothes, pots and dishes, and bathing themselves, the children and sometimes even the animals, and then they begin the long journey home on foot. This time, in addition to the clean laundry and pots, they are carrying 5 gallons of water -- nearly 44 pounds and often contaminated (WHO 2008). Five gallons of water may be enough to cook and provide drinking water for their family for maybe a few days. With jericans atop their heads, shoulders and backs, they strain to keep the delicate balance, careful not to lose a single drop on the rough road home.