Be Prepared for Life

Activity Kit Four:
"Water for Life"

Too many people are needlessly hungry!

Ours is the water world of the solar system. Fresh water is constantly evaporating out of our oceans as clouds which carry moisture and rain to the land. Plants store water in their vegetable and fruity parts. Rivers and lakes carry the water back to the oceans where it is cleaned again.

We all need water! You are 70% water. We need to drink the equivalent of 6 glasses of water a day [1,5 liters] and each of us uses at least 5 liters a day when washing and cooking. Without water we would all die within the next 10 days!

Living water must be fresh and clean. Contaminated water can be fatal to life. Each day 60 000 people die because they drank "killer water". One in four people world-wide are suffering from drinking impure water.

500 million from Trachoma - 350 million from Malaria
250 million from Cholera Typhoid Diarrhoea Bilharzia
250 million from River Blindness and Elephantiasis.

Rainfall purifies our water over and over again and rains are forever falling somewhere. Unhappily, these rains do not fall equally everywhere. Some places have 1000 times more rainfall than others. Africa is the thirsty continent, much of it is desert or semi-desert with rainfalls below 500 mm a year, and getting drier year by year. Often the rains do not come at all causing drought, crop failure and famine. At other times there are floods, wash-aways of soil, crops, people and their homes. 90% of Africa and South Africa is at risk from unpredictable or low rainfalls. The droughts have been so severe that farmers have feed paper to cattle to keep some of them alive.

All Africans have to
learn to respect and protect water.

We cannot take it for granted any more. But knowing where to collect water is not the end of the problem. Water may be hard to reach [below ground] or a long way from home. It may have to be cleaned before it can be drunk. Water is heavy to carry, dangerous to drink when untreated, and expensive to buy. Some families have to spend half of what they earn, buying water! This keeps them poor!

Perhaps you do not have this problem because you have taps [maybe many taps] inside your homes. Water does not seem scarce or hard to get at all! It's there whenever you want it. Why you may even use it to flush body wastes away as sewage [20 liters per flush]. This is enough water to keep 13 people alive each day in places where water is scarce.

Water often seems more abundant in the cities. We use it for making things in factories, generating electricity, watering plants and swimming in. In the countryside we use it to irrigate food crops and water stock animals. What is all the fuss about?

It may be hard to realise that water, in South Africa water, is still our most precious and scarce resource. There is enough gold for the next 25 years, but is there is enough water for all the extra people who will be born during these years?

It's not enough to have a tap [or 20 taps] at home when there is no water in the pipes! Can we avoid the never-ending drought that some warn us is coming?

We need to respect and protect water by ...

  • Learning how to collect water
  • Learning how to clean water
  • Learning how to use water sparingly
Thirsty people are desperate, weak and sickly people. They need water, and food to be healthy.

Scouts should share in concerned water action.

Water action takes 'know how' and the will to work. Work that will save lives.

Care for water today
if you want to live tomorrow

Part 1: Getting water

In this kit...

You learn how to collect and store water:

1. Getting Water
How to clean and purify water:

2. Cleaning water
How to care for water and enjoy it:

3. Caring for water

© Copyright 1991 - 1994
Dr Frank Opie for the South African Scout Association