08 January 2010


8 January 2010

The dry season has just begun. We won’t start getting rain until April, maybe a few showers in early March.
My cistern has one foot of muddy, buggy water left in it.
This is not good.
So what are my options?

1. My landlord will let me use his cistern. He’s stopped selling water from it because he’s also worried about the water lasting through the dry season.

2. After his cistern, our next option is the pump. There is one pump in M. T. (a town of approximately 20,000 people) and it is frequently “out of order.” I put the quotes because most villagers believe that the Chief deliberately has the pump sabotaged in his desire to get villagers to continually pay him for repairs. I don’t know the validity of this belief.

3. After the pump, there is the river. The generous river that gives rice to the village. The river is already a source of water for most of K. When I bike by on my way to Tsevie, I see children bring huge bowls of water on their heads to their homes, women washing clothes, even young men washing their motos in the river Zio.
I’m pretty sure that my bout of amoebiasis is due to eating at a fufu bar in K. In the process of making fufu, one has to add water to help keep the mortar wet so the fufu doesn’t stick too much as it’s being pounded. The water definitely wasn’t treated and almost certainly came from the river. It was very silly for me to eat fufu from the bar in the first place, but it also simply confirms my fears about the dirtiness of the river water.

In the States or the UK, in the majority of places, certainly everywhere I’ve lived, I didn’t think about the water. It came out of a tap and I drank, cooked, washed myself and my clothes and flushed my toilet with it.
Water here is a process, a fairly laborious process – and that’s with a cistern right outside my house.

First I get water from my cistern. I usually get four buckets in one go, perhaps every third day. I bring them inside to fill my big bucket.

I like to let the water settle for at least an hour or two before using it – so that most of the heavier muddy particles will go to the bottom. If I’m going to drink it, I put two bowlfuls into a large pot, bring it to a rolling boil, let it boil for a full minutes, then leave it to cool for about 12 hours.

Finally I pour it into my filter and collect it in large 1.5 liter water bottles. Over a few weeks, the filter candles get dirty and filtering get slower, so I clean the whole contraption.

If the water is for washing – myself, my dishes, or my clothes, I pour it through a pagne to catch the biggest particles.

I use about three bowlfuls (or 10 liters) for a shower – four if I’m washing my hair. I usually take two showers a day. I stand in a basin and use a big dipper to pour water over my head to lather up and rinse.

After my “shower” I pour the water from the basin into the bucket next to my toilet. I use this bucket to flush my toilet as there’s (obviously) no running water. To wash my hands I use a little cup that I poked holes into, fill the cup and let it run out, on my hands. Run-off hand-washing water also goes into the toilet bucket.

I have no dishwasher except my own two hands. I use one bucket for washing, one for rinsing, and a third bucket as a strainer – it’s a fruit basket-type thing, so has little holes for draining.

The wash water goes right into my compost heap, as long as I haven’t used a harsh soap. The rinse water I either reuse as wash water or add to my toilet bucket.
I estimate that I use between 30 and 50 liters of water a day, including the 3-4 liters a day that I drink. That sounds like a lot, but it’s only 7 – 13 gallons

Average (American) use according to enotes: 123 gallons (466 liters) http://www.enotes.com/science-fact-finder/energy/how-much-water-does-an-average-person-use-each-day

According to http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/qahome.html#HDR3; about 80-100

I thought I was water-conscious before in drought-prone southern California. Hardly!

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