July 27, 2005


Being in Kindu makes me think a lot about water. In Kinshasa, I typically run out of drinking water about once a week, if I haven't planned my food shopping very carefully. I suck it up, shower in the morning and get to the office parched and ready to drink all the water in the work kitchen's filter.

In Kindu, I run out of water everyday. Sarah usually receives four « bidons » (large water containers previously holdpetrolrole or motor oil) a day. When I'm around, she gets 6. Each bidon is pretty large: they can contain about 20 liters each and are brought directly to our doorstep. We then have to carry the heavy bidons, and tip them over the flush and shower buckets carefully. The remaining two bidons go into the water filter and the maid/cook uses the rest to clean floors, dishes and clothes.

This is a pain in the ass, especially if you happen to be tired that day and all you want is a nice warm bath. To brush my teeth in the morning, I need to make sure I rinse with potable water which has been filtered and bleached. The filter is not the best performer and dribbles water so it takes about 12 minutes to fill up a 1.5 liter water bottle.

I can only imagine what a arduous this task is for a household with 6 children, the mothers and their daughters going to the water source and back. The water source is sometimes located 1 hour away. Women can carry 20 liters bidons back and forth to their households about 4 times a day.

Cooking also takes forever, the charcoal needing to be heated up, water boiled, beans soaked and cooked, twice a day, for 6 people. In a day that is organized around cooking, cleaning and fetching water, no wonder girls don't go to school.

By way of comparison, I did some research :

WHO Guidelines

For a household that uses a medium amount of water in the developing world, WHO estimates that it uses:

-Drinking water 3-4 Liters per day per person
-Food preparation, cleanup 2-3 Liters per day per person
-Personal hygiene 6-7 Liters per day per person
-Laundry 4-6 Liters per day per person
-Total 20 Liters per day per person

Kindu, by my estimates uses:

-Drinking water 2 Liters per day per person
-Food preparation, cleanup 25 Liters per day per person
-Personal Hygiene 15 Liters per day per person
-Laundry 8 Liters per day per person
-Total 50 Liters per day per person

The Average American Household

-In the United States, typically, households consume approximately 30% of their water for outdoor use, such as watering the lawn. Inside, toilets use the most water, with an average of 27 gallons per person per day (102 liters per person per day)
-Total water use (both indoor and outdoor) in a typical single-family home is 101 gallons per capita per day (383 liters per person per day)
-The average five-minute shower takes between 15 to 25 gallons of water. (76 liters per person per day)
-Total 76 liters per person per day

Makes you think...don't it?

(For some reason this post makes me think of « just take a look, it's in a book, a reading rainbooooow! »

Thanks to dreyno01 and Mary for posting on my Guest Map !


Anonymous said...

Reading Rainbow... Wow, it's been a while since I've heard of that show :)
How did you come up with your estimates for Kindu? Why is it so much higher than the average for a developing country?

007 in Africa said...

I came up with estimates (of my use in Kindu) based on the number of containers we use... It's higher because this is an estimate for my use, not for local villager use :) I waste a hella lot more water than your average Kinduan.

Beaver said...

Kinda makes you regret Dakar and the ba-eau-bab and kirene bottles, doesn't it ?

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