Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

02 February 2010

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A Thirst for Making a Difference

I want to write about water. This vital necessity is a big part of everyday life here in Ghana. Many women and girls in the villages spend literally hours each day pumping water from wells, or obtaining it from other sources, and then carrying it home on their heads. Near where we live, water shortages are common and we often see carts with large water containers on them, being delivered to homes that purchase water when the water from the mains is not flowing. The numerous buckets and containers in our home that are filled with water are a constant reminder that we can quickly be without water, and hence need to be “at the ready” because water shortages are a very real part of life here.

Water matters for so many reasons; unclean water is the leading cause of disease in the world. I have become so much more water conscious since living here! I often call myself a sponge, because I drink so much water! In the heat, it is necessary, and when you are without water, even for short periods, it takes on an unreal urgency. Recently, my partner and I were travelling with our portable water filter, which broke! It made me much more acutely aware of how much water I was drinking, when I also had to deal with the issue of buying water (and consequently, buying plastic).

I cannot speak about water without also raising the “plastics” issue; a topic that is very close to my heart. Here, many people buy “water sachets” marketed as “pure water”. Part of me is sympathetic to doing this; it is certainly a cleaner alternative for drinking, so it is “healthier”. It is also readily available and often refreshingly cool. But this “healthy choice” actually gives rise to another big issue, which is that of plastic waste. These empty water sachets are literally everywhere! Plastic is NOT bio degradable, and not only it is an eye sore, it is also a real problem for our environment. Some of my agricultural friends tell me that these insidious plastic bags also cause a problem for farmers, who have to deal with their small ruminents that are sick, because they have ingested these plastic bags.

But I digress! I was talking about water. In researching an article for this newspaper, I recently came across the fact that 90% of all wastewater in Africa is discharged into the environment without being treated. This just perpetrates the problem, but of course, there are insufficient funds to address the issue.

This then highlights something to me that is true of so much of the development issues that are faced here in Ghana, and elsewhere. There are no quick fixes, easy answers or simple ways to move along the development path. Everything is inter-linked, related and tied to everything else. Much like we all are, in this global community called Planet Earth; so I am hoping that if we all take a small step and do something positive, all of our collective baby steps will make a difference. What are you going to do?

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Written by Mar(k)

February 8, 2010 at 10:42 am

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