The Water Burden | UNICEF USA

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We may take it for granted, but water on demand is a luxury. With a simple turn of the tap, we shower, bathe, quench our thirst, cook our food and keep everything clean.

But for far too many girls and women, water is a lifelong burden.

Girls and women around the world spend 200 million hours a day gathering water. In 8 out of 10 homes without running water, it’s the girls who spend hours every day lugging heavy containers over rough terrain. They are often alone and at risk of attack or even kidnapping.

Time spent collecting water is time away from school — denying girls a chance to build a better future. Even girls who manage to fit learning into a day filled with household chores can easily fall behind because one in three schools lack the toilets they need once they hit puberty. Absenteeism among girls during their monthly periods becomes yet another barrier to education for girls already facing huge obstacles.

Once they grow older, girls face a life of caregiving made far more difficult by the lack of clean, safe water. Contaminated water causes illness for all, but it’s women and girls who care for the sick — especially during emergencies when damaged water supplies and compromised sanitation take a heavy toll.

For millions of women and girls, water is a problem. But UNICEF has solutions: time-tested, effective programs to bring safe water and sanitation to entire communities — and to set girls free.

Help UNICEF help girls and women around the world by providing easier access to safe water.

Take a 360° tour of Uganda and meet Sylvia. Learn about her strength and hopes as she struggles to find clean water.

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Learn about the Water Burden girls and women face, and how you can get involved. You and UNICEF can make a difference!

Aysha's Story
Thirteen-year-old Aysha lives in Afar, Ethiopia, where she devotes her days to a solitary hunt for water. Tag along with her as she and her camel make the daily eight-hour trip to collect water for her family.
Read Aysha's Full Story
Rosemaine's Story
Rosemaine's brother contracted cholera after drinking contaminated water. But UNICEF gave Rosemaine a way to make sure no one else would get sick again. Watch Rosemaine fight for her family as she learns how to keep them — and their water — safe.
Read Rosemaine's Full Story
Hiba's Story
After shelling and bombing drove 10-year-old Hiba and her family from their home in Homs, Syria, the burden of collecting water fell to her.
Read Hiba's Full Story