I am visiting my brother and sister-in-law (Matthew Bolton and Emily Welty) in Kampala, Uganda. Although I have traveled to several countries before, this is my first visit to a developing nation. My visit is full of new experiences even for things as simple and essential as water.
Every morning I make a short trip from the basement apartment to the filtered water supply in the main house above. It requires a little practice and training to transfer the water from the supply bottle which can weigh up to 55 pounds to our five liter bottle (1.3 US gallons) without spilling. Moreover, though we have running water for washing, our building has poor plumbing and electrical work. Pipes leak and visits to the sink or shower are frequently accompanied with a buzzing sensation or electrical shock.
If you travel down the hill you will see women carrying large jerry cans from the water pump to their homes not just for drinking but for cooking, bathing, or watering plants. In comparison my daily trip is insignificant.
Even so, I am much more conscious of my water usage here in Uganda than at home in the United States. For example when I first arrived I needed two cups of water to brush my teeth, but the inconvenience of filling my cup twice quickly taught me to use less than one. Water is so crucial to our daily lives, but we in the West often forget that the convenience of taps and flush toilets is a great luxury.
Outreach International is involved in helping several poor communities around the world improve their water supply. Click here to read about one such project in Malawi.