Running water....

Today I was reading an article about the water consumption in Europe but especially in Germany, compared to Africa. Since I am living in Kenya right now, I found it especially interesting...
The article said that in Germany the water consumption is by 122 liter (!) per person. In Africa it`s 20 liters. The UN states that 50 liters is enough for each person for cooking and hygiene (here and here). Most of the water we use is even just simply  for flushing the toilet...a shocking 42 liters are just flushed away daily….That`s more than an African has the whole day long….

I was raised to spent water very carefully. I never let the tap running while brushing my teeth, shampooing my hair, shaving my legs and so. I always was told that water is precious and a lot of people don`t have excess to water that easily and that I should really appreciate it and be economical. That`s how I always lived my life and sometime it made me really twitchy to see how other people waste water  and are careless about it. But still, I never really took a second thought about water, there was nothing to think about…it`s just normal to turn on the faucet and there’s water.  That`s it.
When I came to Kenya I started to get a whole new few it. The first month I travelled a lot, so I most of the time lived in cheap hostel. But when I came to the place I live now, I really learned to appreciate water even more.
The house I live in doesn`t have waterlines. We have a 100 liter container in the kitchen that is filled with water that I use for cooking and cleaning the dishes. There`s a 100 liter container outside that is used for cleaning the house and washing the cloth. 

And there`s a 200 liter container on top of the house to catch the rainwater and it has a small pipe down to the bathroom so that we can shower. In the beginning I automatically was reaching for the faucet when I was standing by a sink and it took me a few days to get out of the habit and realizing that there really is no faucet anywhere in the house.
The water we use is from a dried out river. We have to dig a hole in the ground and when you start digging slowly water appears on the surface.   

The first liters of water that appear you only use for the garden and the plants (every here they grow papaya- and mango trees) because it`s very dirty and has a lot of insects in it. After that the newer water that comes out is used for cleaning and washing the house and cloth. And then finally the water that you scoop at last will be the cleanest and will be used for the kitchen. All the water you scoop out of the whole will be filled in the yellow containers you see above (on the second picture) and then be loaded on a donkey to carry it.
After you fill the new water in your containers you have to wait at least a day so that the dirt can settle to the ground, then the water is clean. We bought a liquid that you can pour in the water so that it gets rid of all the bacteria that might be in it. We also have bought a pump to filter the water, if really necessary, which luckily isn`t very often because it takes a long time to filter a few liters of water.

The water we have, all in all its about 200 liters for washing, cooking and cleaning, has to last at least for 1 week, if not longer. The 200 liters for hygiene has to last almost for one month….
So what we use in one week, in Germany/Europe is used in not even two days….that`s crazy….

So water now becomes even more precious. You can see it getting lower and lower in the container and you know you can`t just open a faucet and fill it up again. It`s hard work to get it. You really think about it every time you use water. For the people here it is normal and it`s their daily life…
Life here is so different and I really do appreciate all the things I learn. Things that are absolutely natural for us aren’t easy to get for so many people on this planet. We really do live luxurious, even though we don’t feel like it, because we also sometimes struggle with money and other things. But so many things we get without even thinking about it….We don`t have to make our hands dirty to get water, we don`t have to wait a few days if our water is empty until we can get new, of course we pay for it…but do we ever really think about it?




  1. Vielen Dank für diesen Einblick. Man macht sich da manchmal gar nicht solche Gedanken drüber, wie viel Wasser man pro Tag verbraucht, wenn man einfach den Hahn aufdrehen kann. Ich bin auch so aufgewachsen, dass ich z.B. beim Zähneputzen kein Wasser laufen lasse, die Waschmaschine nicht für zwei T-Shirts einschalte und die Spülmaschine nicht für zwei Teller, aber das ist natürlich noch einmal ein ganz anderes Level. Ich habe Wasser, wenn ich es brauche und muss nicht auf neues warten, wenn es leer ist.

    1. Ja, es ist schon verrückt wie selbstverständlich das ist. Und ich muss sagen, ich freue mich auch schon wieder darauf wenn ich Zuhause einfach den Wasserhahn aufdrehen kann;)