Water is precious!

SAMSUNGAs a little boy I once went on an excursion to the water tower in Utrecht. As a reminder I received a sticker that read: “Water is precious , so go easy on the tap!” Oh, how often have I thought of that sticker in the past weeks. Water is precious!

When a main water pipe broke early September, there was no tap water in most of the city for 3 weeks. Refilling the cistern of the toilet manually is a special experience, it holds more than 10 liters of water! When washing hands and brushing teeth, turning on the tap goes automatically. Showering is done by throwing water over your head with a bucket. The plants wither away outside in the sweltering heat. The laundry accumulates, your wardrobe is emptying. The house gets dirtier, and you feel dirtier … all because there is no water coming from the tap!

SAMSUNGFortunately we have friends with whom we could fill big bottles of water. And bottled water remained available at the stores. We did survive, but it taught us to again appreciate a very ‘normal thing’.

A person needs at least 20 liters of water per day for basic needs. In a metropolis like Dakar this means queues of people with buckets to get water distributed by tank trucks from the police and fire departments. People collect water from the sea, dig wells, are thrifty, bathe less, have poorer personal hygiene, drink dirty water. This gives great health risks. This means that now, in the middle of the annual flu epidemic and malaria season, there are many cases of diarrhea and skin infections. A cholera outbreak is not far.

SAMSUNGFor the people living in the most affected areas the clinic, in collaboration with Jan on behalf of the ICF Dakar and the local authorities, started handing out water purification tablets. These tablets make dirty water drinkable. It is an ambitious relief project, it requires good coordination, and good contact with the authorities at the district hospital. In this way we were able to provide 15,000 families (90,000 people) with clean drinking water. People reacted very grateful: “You came at the right on time!”

Water is precious … even in Dakar no one had expected that this could happen. We actually never realized how blessed we were. Water from the tap; it is precious. For several days we now have water again. Every time water comes from the tap I realize, as this would not happen my life would look very very different!
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Familie Kieviet in Senegal