"Four years after the United Nations announced that it cut the number of people without access to cleaner water by half, getting to that water is still a major hardship for much of sub-Saharan Africa, a new analysis shows.
More than two-thirds of the region’s population reported that they leave home to collect water and haul it as far as two football fields, and that backbreaking work falls mostly on women and children in 24 countries carrying buckets that weigh as much as 40 pounds each. The result, says the analysis released Wednesday and published in the journal PLOS One, is “fatigue, musculoskeletal damage and early degenerative bone and soft tissue damage” on water bearers who are often frail to begin with.
Among households that spent 30 minutes to collect water from a well or some other protected source, 13.5 million were women and 3.5 million were children in nations such as Niger, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Burundi, South Africa, Liberia and the Ivory Coast. Girls vastly outnumbered boys who carry out the chore, 62 percent to 38 percent, the analysis said. Adult women tasked with water collection ranged from about 45 percent in Liberia to 90 percent in the Ivory Coast."