KENYA: Amina Abdalla, "There will be war... People will fight over water"
Women queue for water
MARSABIT, 24 August 2011 (IRIN) - Amina Abdalla, a 45-year-old mother of seven, lives in northern Kenya's Marsabit District, where life is a daily struggle for scarce water and pasture.
Abdalla's family lives on about 10 litres of water per day, far below the 20-50 litres per person per day
recommended by the UN. She told IRIN/PlusNews about her daily struggle for water:
"When it is the turn of my Manyatta [a small settlement] to take water from the nearby water vending place, I wake up in the morning at four o'clock so that I am sure by midday, I will have received my portion of water. I usually find the queue already so long, and some people you get already queuing tell you they have been there from 3am.
"Some of us women come with small children to the water vendor and stay the whole day waiting for our turn. The children cry all day of hunger and the scorching sun, but getting water is the most important thing at that moment.
"At the vendor, it doesn't matter what is the size of your family. We are just given five jerry cans of 20 litres each and they expect you to use it until after 10 days when you can return for more.
"When I finish my water - which I always do before the end of the 10 days because my family is large - we buy from people who hawk water. They sell one 20 litre container for 50 shillings [US$0.54], which is very expensive but there is little I can do. At times, you end up using money meant for food to buy water because even if you have food, you can't cook it without water.
"I have instructed my children to bathe in turns - two every day - when I get the water; by three days, all my seven children will have taken a bath. I must do only the most important things with the water, and for my family, bathing every day is not one of those important things. Washing clothes is not a must and you must be creative and repeat clothes frequently to save on water.
"I have seven children but there would have been more; I lost three to cholera because the surroundings are dirty as a result of poor hygiene... You can't maintain hygiene without water.
"There are boreholes dug in the forest but a woman cannot go there because when you go there, men at times attack us and rape us. Those who come with their animals also do not respect women like us and they force us to leave the water points for their cattle.
"Here in Marsabit, we will have war one day and it will not be about animals or land... War will take place because people will be fighting for water."