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Globally, millions of people don’t have access to water in their home. They collect water from shared water supply points or surface water sources and physically carry water containers back home for household use. The importance of accessing water that’s safe to drink and enough water for washing, cleaning and cooking is clear. But little attention has been given to the safety of water collection away from home, or to the health and safety of the people who typically do this work. It’s most often women and girls from low income households who must queue for, collect and carry water home. There’s a clear need for water supply systems that prioritise personal safety alongside the traditional goals of improving water quality and quantity and men should be encouraged to to help with water carriage through public health campaigns, to reduce women’s injury risk and other adverse maternal and child health outcomes associated with water fetching, writes Dr Jo-Anne Geere for The Conversation Africa.

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A woman fetches water from sandy holes in Ntepes, Samburu County in Kenya (file photo).