TED Talk: ‘The Magic Washing Machine’

It’s currently dry season, specifally, hot dry season. That means the rivers and streams flow at their lowest points, wells dry up, and people women have to travel further out to find water. I’m very lucky, as I have a perineal well just meters from my doorstep, and although the natural spring I go to for drinking water no longer babbles, there’s still water available at only a ten minute walk. However, many women in my community spend a significant amount of their working days carrying water. They’re not like me, carrying just enough to drink from the spring, or just enough to bathe once a day from a nearby well. They’re carrying water for themselves and their families, to drink, cook with, and bathe twice a day. They’re also carrying water for their gardens, for the ability to provide essential nutrients for their children, and for economic support in the lean season. Roads and electricity dominate to table of discussion for development in Zambia , but I sometimes stop and wonder if, were more women (specially rural women) at the table, if plumbing and running water would be emphasized more.

This talk explains what I’ve observed in a truly amazing way. It also encapsulates my criticisms of the “population bomb” argument, not because population growth isn’t an important issue, but because of the way it’s often coded to shift  responsibility from us, the global north, the standard setters of materialism as development, using the most resources per capita globally, onto women in Zambia who walk kilometers to find water. How can we justify people in the global south not being afforded modern amenities that, to us in the global north, are essential?

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