As my final exam for my “Water in Developing Countries” class, I had to write a four-page paper on any topic that was discussed in class. I chose a subject that I knew little about, yet was very interested in. My topic concerned the importance of increasing the access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in sub-Saharan African nations, focusing specifically on the impact it would have on female empowerment through educational benefits, improved health conditions, and a safer environment.
I won’t bore y’all with the specifics of the paper, but rather my thoughts and findings as I did research. While learning more about my topic, I discovered that many women have to live in indescribable circumstances and endure abhorrent events that could have been prevented with easier access to water and sanitation facilities. I learned that women in Kenya have been sexually assaulted while traveling to the public restroom at night. The idea that such atrocious acts of violence could be prevented with easier access to bathrooms both astounds and depresses me. I never thought twice about having a restroom that can be reached safely and easily, yet these women risk their health and safety to go the bathroom at night.
(This is an example of a typical bathroom in many sub-Saharan African towns.)
I also never realized that how close a clean water source is has a huge impact on young girls’ school education. According to my research, school-aged girls are the ones who most often go to fetch the water, so if the water source is far away, the girls are either late to school or miss it entirely. Something as simple as turning on the faucet for me is something that dictates a girl’s ability to get a quality education and linked to that, a decent job and a solid future.
By researching this topic, I learned that simple things that we, as both Americans and people of developed nations, take for granted have huge impacts on the daily lives of people in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing nations.