For the last year South Africans have been forced into a new appreciation for water as drought swept across large parts of our country, with devastating consequences. Living in Cape Town I haven’t been hit as hard – I think our water bill went up a little and I read about the tough circumstances on the news, but it didn’t touch me personally. For the most part I could still shower and wash my hair, water my plants and clean my apartment. The thing is, until someone takes something as basic as water away from you, you can never really know the importance it has in your life, and the impact of water scarcity.

To raise awareness for World Water Day, Armani Beauty asked me if I would take part in their #1Day10Liters charity initiative, where I would be given a 10 liter jerrycan and that would be my supply for the entire day.

At first I read the challenge and thought, “how hard can it be?” My arrogance was soon swallowed when the tiny blue container arrived and suddenly I realised just how little 10 liters of water is. Think about it: We are told that to stay healthy we need to drink between 1,5 and 2 liters of water per day. So that leaves 8 liters. Then you need to wash your body (not to mention your hair), flush the toilet, brush your teeth, cook food and wash the dishes. Suddenly 10 liters seemed very, very little indeed.

My arrogance was soon swallowed when the tiny blue container arrived and suddenly I realised just how little 10 liters of water is

So the day finally came when I needed to fill my jerrycan and start the challenge and soon a new problem presented itself: 10 liters of water is seriously heavy. Part of my task was to lug this can around with me and suddenly it seemed slightly unrealistic – well no, just hard. When I used to think about communities where people need to fetch water everyday I always imagined the time it took and distance they needed to cover. But the weight of the vessels is enormous and the thought of small kids carrying heavy buckets for kilometers gained new meaning!

I wanted to see how my normal routine would feel if I took away the luxury of water. So I got up and brushed my teeth – okay easy enough. Then came the bathing bit, which was slightly more tricky. I confess I was too nervous to wash my hair; I really didn’t know how much water I would need to wash the shampoo out, so I ended up falling back on dry shampoo at the roots with a conditioning mist on my ends. I knew, however, that this would not be a realistic solution for most.

Washing my body was another problem. Filling a skottel would mean using up all 10 liters in one go. Instead I used a wash cloth to wet my skin, soaped up and then wiped it off again. It was a tedious and long process and I realised how convenient it was to quickly pop into a shower before work.

Since I had so little water to work with I was very aware of drinking too much and I’m sure I failed to meet the 1,5 liter minimum – funny how this seems such a simple requirement for living a healthy life and yet it becomes a problem if you live in a water scarce area.

The other obvious problem was the loo. Did you know the average flush uses nearly 14 liters of water? That’s insane! That would be more than my current daily allowance down the drain with the first wee. It was a matter of strategy and so the waterworks could stay put, only the more serious business needed taking care of. I had to sacrifice a liter for a shallow flush.

Then you need to wash your hands, and again I struggled. I ended up pouring water into the basin that I reused every time I needed to use the bathroom, soaping up my hands and dipping them through the water. This wasn’t ideal in terms of hygiene – luckily it was just me – but I couldn’t pour fresh water in every time. There simply wasn’t enough.

By the end of the day I had a new level of respect for the amount of water I used (and probably wasted) everyday. After dinner I poured a little water into the sink to clean our plates. No pots and pans tonight, there simply wasn’t a way to wash them. And before bed I poured the very little water that was left into my basin to wash my face and brush my teeth. I made it, but only just.

By the end of the day I had a new level of respect for the amount of water I used (and probably wasted) everyday

This was one day for me but in many communities this is an everyday reality. The Acqua For Life development program by Armani is all about giving people all over the world access to water. They work in partnership with Green Cross International in Latin America, Asia and Africa, in over 108 communities in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, China, Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico and Sri Lanka.

For them, water is at the heart of sustainable development issues and a lack of it affects the livelihoods of billions of people. Through Aqua for Life, Armani strives to help facilitate access to drinking water, improve quality of life and guarantee health and hygiene to the communities involved.

Since 2011, Acqua for Life has enabled more than 108 communities in 8 countries, in 3 continents to reclaim a fundamental right: the right to benefit from access to drinking water. You can read more about this amazing initiative here: acquaforlife.org/en/

We might not face the same intensity of water shortage as these communities but as water shortage and drought is getting increasingly serious I think we all need treat this valuable resource with more respect and care. How much water are you using per day? How much water do you waste? Take the #1Day10Liters challenge for yourself. It has meant a lot to me.

Author

I am a lifestyle blogger from Cape Town trying to find the best ways to spend my time, take care of my body and express myself. I am slightly obsessed with fragrances, sneakers, Jamie Oliver and Masterchef Australia. Oh, and I probably drink way too much wine.

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