1.1  The basic need for water

According to national and international guidelines, the quantity of water available to all people should be 50–100 litres per person per day, or an absolute minimum of 20 litres per person per day (UNDP, 2006). The water must be safe for drinking and other household uses. Drinking water must be free from pathogenic (disease-causing) micro-organisms (tiny living organisms thatyou can see only with a microscope), and free from chemical and physical contaminants that constitute a danger to a person’s health. It must also be free from colour and odour. Water must be within safe physical reach, in or near the house, school or health facility. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the water source has to be within 1000 m of the home and collection time should not exceed 30 minutes (UNDESA, 2014).

As well as being physically accessible, water should also be reasonably priced and affordable for everyone. Buying water should not reduce a person’s capacity to buy other essential goods. This means that the cost of water must be kept low and essential amounts of water must sometimes be provided free. In some rural communities of Ethiopia water is provided free, typically from a hand pump managed by a local Water Committee. Occasionally, a charge may be levied by the Water Committee. In urban areas, where water is provided by water utilities, people will pay for the water they use.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 1

1.2  The different uses of water