Loos and luck

I really need the loo. I’ve been at my desk for well over three hours and so far have filled my body with two cups of tea, one cup of coffee and a fair amount of water too. But I have the misfortune of working on the very top floor of Practical Action’s head office, which means that a trip to the loo involves climbing all the way downstairs. And I’m so engrossed in my work (and also a little lazy – it is Friday, after all) that I really can’t be bothered….

I’m currently writing a proposal to fundraise for a hugely exciting new project that Practical Action is embarking on in Zimbabwe. We’re working with rural communities in the southern provinces of Gwanda and Mwenezi, endeavouring to reach out to 200,000 people to improve their access to clean water, ensure they have adequate sanitation and reduce their health risks from poor hygiene. The figure is massive. 200,000 people is over double the size of my home town!

Most of these people currently live several kilometres away from a safe water supply. The task of collecting water usually falls to women and children who will spend whole days carrying up to 80 litres of water. The journey can be dangerous – these women are vulnerable to mugging and rape; and the water they do collect often isn’t fit for human consumption anyway.

Furthermore, many families in Gwanda and Mwenezi don’t have toilets in their own homes as they can’t afford to build them. This means that people usually just relieve themselves outside in the bush. This morning I’ve read stories from women and girls who describe the complete loss of dignity and embarrassment they feel while doing this, especially when they’re menstruating.

Suddenly my reluctance to walk down a flight of stairs to go to the toilet demonstrates not only laziness, but complete ignorance of how fortunate I am. Wherever I am, it only ever takes me a few minutes to fetch a glass of clean water or go to the loo.

I am lucky. But it shouldn’t be about luck. Having clean water and being able to go the toilet without putting your safety or health at risk are basic human rights to which people everywhere are entitled, whether you live in Warwickshire or Gwanda.

Now I really must go – I’m desperate.

2 responses to “Loos and luck”

  1. Felix Says:

    Dear Ella,

    I am a Zimbabwean living in the UK and I am very grateful for what you are doing for my home country. I will be keenly following the progress of your project from this website.

    Many thanks,

    Felix (Staffordshire)

  2. Ella Jolly Says:

    Dear Felix,
    Thank you for your comment on my blog. I’m really glad you enjoyed reading about this new project in Zimbabwe. If you’d like to read more about our work in Zimbabwe, please cick here: http://practicalaction.org/wherewework_zimbabwe

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