Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink

I saw an impressive contemporary dance show last night, a piece called Scattered, performed by Motionhouse. The piece was formed around the theme of water, moving north to south across the globe, from ice in the arctic, to the desert and even a section representing the depths of the ocean. It combined dynamic dance moves, aerial acrobatics, and stunning visual projections onto a carefully curved stage that looked like a wave. It was an inspiring performance, which left me reflecting on the vital role water plays in our everyday life.

I too often take the supply of water for granted. Turning on the tap, the shower, even flushing the toilet are all actions I hardly give a second thought. Yet for many, a clean reliable source of water is hard to find. The section in the dance show representing the desert portrayed one dancer in the centre of the stage, parched in the heat, surrounded by the others all with bottles of water, indifferent to her plight until she collapses from exhaustion and dehydration. 

Without water, the simplest of tasks becomes a huge obstacle. Any time there is a water cut, life suddenly gets more difficult. For some, accessing a clean and safe water supply is just too expensive.  The urban poor, with approximately 1 billion living in slums across the globe are often denied access to basic services, with utility providers directing their supply to the wealthier areas. WaterAid estimates that it costs 37% of a person’s annual income to connect to the water supply, a prohibitive sum for many.

The 15th African International Water Congress is currently underway this week, taking place in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, focusing on perspectives facing energy challenges and climate change. The hope is that this international congress will begin to successfully tackle some of these perceptions, and advocate for improved access to services for the poor. Water is life-giving and life-sustaining, an issue that cannot and must not be ignored.

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