Women and water: sources of life!
By Teresa Calderón
March 2014.- Throughout out the world in almost every culture women and water are considered symbols of life and abundance, precisely because it’s in their nature the ability to give life. This close relationship is more than symbolic: in both communities and families of the rural areas around the world, the women are responsible for collecting, storing and managing water to meet the daily household needs, home gardens, animal breeding and of course tending the family.
The women and mothers of Jatun Mayu community at Icla Municipality in the Southern Department of Chuquisaca, gathered last January at their children’s school, to remember the history of their community and the fundamental role played by the water system in the very constitution of the community and the quality of life for the inhabitants: "long before we had the water system we lived separated from each other, our houses were far away in the field. Then we drank water from ponds and rivers, along with the animals, we used to get sick, adults and children alike with stomach pains", recalls one mom. They also suffered from scabies and other skin diseases.
As Jatun Mayu was a dispersed community, they had to walk long distances carrying water, this work occupied much of the women's time. “Now we use that time in us and in the house, we have been alphabetized and we have time to become skilled in many things, including practicing hygiene in ourselves and children because we have the water tap and sink in our own home. Before women had no time for anything and we were used only to guard the animals, cooking and tending the children, now we are organized we receive training and live better", recognizes one of the mothers .
With the funding from the European Union of 2 million Euros, UNICEF provides technical assistance to national, departmental, municipal and local level that contributes to improve the access to water and sanitation services in rural disperse communities like Jatun Mayu.
These are some of the testimonies of the women from an entire community that has seen diarrhea and other water related diseases reduce thanks to sanitation; is the testimony of women whose quality of life improved with the arrival of the water system installed by UNICEF and a community that is gradually growing around this basic service.