Day Zero is the day on which city taps run dry. Cape Town hit the headlines this year for declaring a date for this scenario, but the report, The Water Gap; The State of the World’s Water 2018 notes that communities in many other regions have long been living in Day Zero.
As the WaterAid report demonstrates, wherever you are in the world, it’s the poorest and least powerful who are most often without clean water and faced with Day Zero queues and limited supplies.
Released just in time for #WorldWaterDay the report shows that 844 million people need to travel and queue for at least 30 minutes to access safe supplies – almost 200 million more than previously counted.
Inequalities in wealth and power, attitudes in society and culture, and limited resources mean they are also hardest to reach. Gender intensifies this inequality; it is mainly up to women and girls to find and fetch water, or to find ways to adapt when it is scarce.
The report makes an astonishing statement:
A woman collecting the UN-recommended amount of 50 litres per person for her family of four from a water source 30 minutes away would spend two and a half months a year on this task.
The report explains the impact on people who continue to live in Day Zero:
- Their health suffers
- They are less safe and secure
- They lose out on education
- They are less able to earn an income
- Their social standing and dignity suffers
- It reinforces gender inequality and exploitation
The report calls for more tax revenue to be mobilised to provide water for the poorest, improved environmental management and support for people who speak out on the UN-recognised right to safe drinking supplies and sanitation.
Download the full report.