Teresa Gillespie

The sustainable development goal I’ve chosen is number six: clean water and sanitation. Water is essential to life and a person’s survival depends on the availability of clean and wholesome drinking water. As a child I often heard my mother talking about having to walk to the well every day to get drinking water. I really enjoyed walking the half mile or so to collect water for my grandparents when I visited them. For me it was a novelty as I was brought up in a housing estate where the mains water was potable.

Millions upon millions of people in the global south have to walk on average six kilometres  per day to collect water from rivers, wells, ponds and streams. This has a profound effect on the ability of children, particularly girls, to attend school.

Poor sanitation contaminates drinking water, rivers, beaches and food crops. It is estimated that 3.6 billion people don’t have toilets that work properly. Walking barefoot in an area where open defecation is practised increases the risk of contracting such deadly diseases as cholera and typhoid. Children of course are particularly vulnerable.

The Green Schools website has excellent resources on water. I particularly liked the book ‘Water Stories for Around the World’ which includes beautifully illustrated stories from India,Botswana, Spain, Nigeria, Australia , China and Grecce.

Children are wonderful at brainstorming ways to conserve water eg switching off the tap when brushing teeth, taking a shower instead of a bath, washing the car by hand, only putting  the dishwasher on when it has a full load , using a water butt to collect rainwater etc.Having a class monitor to remind others not to leave the tap running when cleaning art palettes and brushes etc is just one example of a  small step used  to teach children to have respect for water,  our most valuable  natural resource.

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