It may not have made it to your news station yet, but the water problems in Dakar are major news and a major problem here. It started before we came back, but my understanding is it’s been going on for two weeks now.
A major supply pipe into the Dakar broke in two places, resulting in many homes across the city of 4 million people losing access to running water. Water came back in some areas for a couple days, but for most of the population, the last two weeks have been a nightmare and at this point, there is no sign of relief ahead.
When you stop and realize how many times and how much water we use each day, you begin to realize why this is such a huge problem.
Brushing your teeth when you wake up, water for the coffee pot, watering the plants on your way out the door, ice in your drink, flushing a toilet, washing your hands, cleaning up a toddler’s spill, mopping the floor, running a couple loads of laundry, washing dishes, cooking rice, making sweet tea, washing fruit and vegetables, baths and showers, and then we wrap it all up with more teeth brushing and one more drink before bed.
Now imagine having to walk up to two miles to get whatever water your family needs for the day and carrying it home during the hottest time of year. And imagine doing this every day for two weeks…and not knowing when it will end. Imagine the hospitals and the prisons dealing with this kind of water shortage. Not very pretty, is it?
I’m not trying to pretend for even a minute that our situation is as bad as what most people are experiencing, but it is hard. We’re getting by on buckets that we’ve been able to fill up, but today that source ran out as well. Our neighborhood is now a dry neighborhood, although I imagine this situation is driving people to drink! (Bada boom!)
Sadly, Facebook is my best source for news these days when it comes to the water situation. Here’s what I’ve learned recently:
– Hotel pools are seeing an increase in traffic. Are they checking people’s bags for shampoo?
– Some restaurants are unable to keep kitchens clean and food prep safe without enough water, so eater beware, caveat comestor.
– Water delivery trucks are making their way to some homes, which sounds good until you find out the water may look like this coming out of your faucets:
– Some people are collecting the condensation from air-conditioning units as a water source. Pretty smart!
Yesterday evening after we were all bucket-bathed, we went back to the bedroom and turned on the AC. Cheikh commented that it was strange for him to think of our kids growing up with all this (bucket baths, gathering together in one room to turn on the AC, power cuts…) being normal. I grew up with some of it in Côte d’Ivoire – and don’t knock a Sunday afternoon movie with the whole family together in one room with AC until you’ve tried it. But I think our hope is that our kids will grow up with an appreciation for all things in life, even water coming out of faucets and lights coming on with a flip of a switch. It’s a lesson we’re learning now.
Jamm ak ndox, everyone. Peace and water.