1.2.1  Domestic use

  • Can you think of five uses for water in your daily life?

  • You will have your own answer, but I thought of the following: drinking, washing myself, cooking, watering my fruit trees and washing my (very old) car!

We use water in our homes, both indoors and outdoors. Uses include for drinking, food preparation, washing hands, bathing/showering, brushing teeth, toilet flushing (if there is a flush toilet), cleaning, washing clothes and dishes, and watering plants.

Water is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Human beings can live for several days without food, but only three or four days without water. Each person needs to consume about 2–4.5 litres of water per day (depending on the climate and level of activity) for their body to function properly. (In the next study session you will look at how the body uses water.) In all, each of us needs 30–40 litres of water for domestic purposes, including drinking, food preparation, cooking and washing (WHO, 1997).

The quality of water required for domestic use has to be high, to safeguard health. Piped water supplies in towns and cities that come from well-operated drinking water treatment plants should be safe to drink. For non-domestic purposes, water does not have to be of such high quality and other sources may be appropriate. This is the case at Haramaya University’s Harar Campus, in Misraq Hararghe, Oromia, where students use water from two shallow wells for bathing and washing their clothes, and water supplied by the town’s drinking water treatment plant for drinking and cooking purposes.

1.2  The different uses of water

1.2.2  Irrigation