In America, having potable drinking water and a constant water supply is never a problem. Almost magically, it is there whenever you need it. If you have followed my story, however, then you know this is not the case in Botswana. I have gone months on end without water and have, on occasion, put buckets outside to catch precious rain water. Some of my peers have to walk up to 5km to fill up buckets to carry home because they don't have running water or a water pump nearby. Water is an issue.
Volunteers in Botswana are lucky, though, in that our water has been safe to drink. I have been drinking it straight from the tap for nearly two years and have had no problems at all. That was until recently, when a number of random quality tests were conducted and the water failed to meet US Embassy standards. They advised us that water in my region intended for human consumption should be boiled. Before receiving this statement, I had been having some stomach problems (eww) so I started boiling my water and they ceased. Boiling water is laborious, especially during the heat of summer when all you want is something cold to drink. As of last week, after talking with a health specialist who told me the situation had been cleared up, I have stopped boiling my water. Gratefully, my tummy has not been rattled so I believe she was right and the water is fine now. (After all, the best way to find out is to try it out and my body isn't reacting...) Happy day, right? Wrong. As annoying as it is having to boil water, it pales in comparison to the alternative... no water.
Today the Water Utilities Corporation released the following statement: "The Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) would like to inform residents of Gaborone City and surrounding areas (Mochudi, Gabane, Kumakwane, Mogoditshane, Tlokweng, Lobatse and their surrounding areas) that it is currently experiencing water supply challenges. Due to this, they will experience low pressure to no water at all indefinitely. Residents are advised to wisely use the little available water." INDEFINITELY?! We are going to be without water indefinitely?! To my great dismay (but not to my surprise), this public statement came out AFTER the water cuts arrived in my village, meaning that none of us had the time to prepare. We are already without water and now without means of stocking up. While we all live with water challenges every day, this is incredibly difficult to hear. Although Peace Corps Volunteers hoard water like it's our jobs, there is never enough for our "shorter" week-long outages. It is in these moments when I wish I had a pit latrine because at least then I could go to the bathroom in peace without worrying about using 3L of water to flush... The question then becomes: "What happens to us and to the local communities if the water really is out indefinitely?"
I beg all of you back in America, please cherish every time you turn the faucet on and water comes out and that it is clean water to drink. I will never take those things for granted again.