Clean water access and Education

Education is key to aiding women and families break the cycle of poverty. But there are other factors that must be considered when discussing the obstacles to women’s economic growth and her attaining the human capital she needs to be self-sufficient. One major obstacle that comes to mind is access to clean water. In the developed world, we often take this for granted. Although here in the US we, too, have become aware of the importance of access to clean water thanks in part to the crisis in Flint, MI. For many women and families in the developing world the impediments to clean water are constant and daily. According to UN Water, 1.8 billion people lack access to clean water. Changes due to climate and an increase in droughts as well as increases in population will only exacerbate this issue. There have been great efforts to improve world access to this fundamental human right and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mandate safe drinking water for all by 2030. But, for this goal to be reached there must be committed and collaborative efforts by all parties involved, both in the developed and developing world.

How do access to clean water and education relate to one another? Consider your daily life, you wake up in the morning walk to the bathroom take care of your needs, turn on the shower, brush your teeth. Once out of the shower you fill your kettle with water for coffee or tea. Maybe you boil some eggs or prepare oatmeal. Each of these activities is seen as a typical morning for many in the developed world. But those living in the developing world would consider these great luxuries as clean water is not readily available in house. Water collection is considered a female responsibility in many countries around the world. It is estimated that 2/3 of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa must leave the house to collect water.  A 2016 article highlights 24 countries and discusses the responsible party for water collection.  The data collection took place between 2005 to 2012. The results of this study stressed that adult women across 24 countries observed held the primary responsibility for water collection. In households where children were reported to be the primary collector of water, female children, versus male children, dominated water collection.[1] In the 24 SSA countries studied, an estimated 3.36 million children and 13.54 million adult females were responsible for water collection in households.[2] Water wells are often great distances from the house. Walking to and from these water wells is not only time consuming it can often be dangerous. As the above study has shown women are expected to provide this service for the household. This results in a large portion of girls and women missing valuable time in school or access to adult learning and vocational initiatives. By creating access to clean water, development agencies also free women and girls from the arduous task of water collection. This provides women and girls the extra time to devote to education, which leads to prosperity within the family and community.


Blog post by Linnie Pawlek, founder of Teach By Tech, Inc. a 501 (c)3 organization located in Colorado, USA. To learn more about how Teach By Tech is working to make education accessible to women of the urban slums in the developing world visit our webpage: 


[1] Jay P. Graham, Mitsuaki Hirai, Seung-Sup Kim. “An Analysis of Water Collection Labor among Women and Children in 24 Sub-Saharan African Countries” June, 2016.

[2] Jay P. Graham, Mitsuaki Hirai, Seung-Sup Kim. “An Analysis of Water Collection Labor among Women and Children in 24 Sub-Saharan African Countries” June, 2016.