Families From Around The World Stand Next To Water They Have. The Differences Are Striking.


While we here in the United States take 30-minute-long showers, run our dishwashers, and fill and refill our Britas at our leisure, families in other countries are living very differently. 

Some pump their water by hand each day, walking back and forth throughout their village just to have water for cooking and laundry. Others, such as refugees in Jordan for instance, conserve their water just to have enough to keep cool. 

According to the UN, 783 million people don't have access to clean water, period. All of which is a problem that photographer Ashley Gilbertson took the time to capture for a project called WaterIs A Family Affair: Access and Usage Across Continents.

He's spent the last six weeks photographing families from seven different countries around the world next to their daily supply of water. As seen by the three highlighted below, there are stark and depressing differences.  

"The most marginalized children and families around the world — those living in poverty, from minority communities or living in remote regions — continue to lack access to life's most vital resource, putting their health, safety, education and survival at risk," he said in a press release. 

Here are just three for comparison:

India, village of Shakdah — 211 liters a day.

Ashley Gilbertson / VII for UNICEF
Ashley Gilbertson / VII for UNICEF

The Gayali family of India uses most of their drinking water for cleaning clothes and dishes. But there are no faucets. They must travel back and forth with their water supply, which comes from a hand-controlled pump. One family member says he feels like he spends all day just traveling to and from the spout for water. And when they get it, there's no guarantee it's clean.  

"Our water is not so good," Nabin Chandra told UNICEF. "It has a lot of iron in it. You can see the deposits in the water after its come out of the pump, and it causes us digestion and stomach problems."

Then you have people who have twice as many family members as a typical family in the U.S. using a fourth of the water they do. 

Jordan, at a Za’atari refugee camp — 300 liters a day.

Ashley Gilbertson / VII for UNICEF
Ashley Gilbertson / VII for UNICEF

Because the family is in a refugee camp after fleeing from Syria when military forces took over, electricity is only provided a bit at night. During the day, they use spritz bottles with water to beat the brutal temperatures, which can see highs in the 100s. They also just don't have control over their supply in general. 

"We're very economical with our water because we don't have enough," Abu Noqta told UNICEF. "We're afraid that, some day, we will not have water because, sometimes, the water trucks go on strike."

To put that into perspective ... 

United States of America, West Village (Manhattan) — 1,000 liters a day.

Ashley Gilbertson / VII for UNICEF
Ashley Gilbertson / VII for UNICEF

"I've travelled all over the world in the past month shooting this water campaign, and I'm shocked by the amount of water my family uses in New York," Joanna Gilbertson, Ashley's Gilbertson's wife, told UNICEF.

Gilberston chose to photograph his own family as he himself was also struck by the issues these families have to deal with. 

Though the numbers aren't all grim — UNICEF reports that more than 90 percent of the population has access to drinking water — other problems surrounding water in different countries, such as sanitation and the conditions that surround it (income disparity, war, gender-based violence, for instance) still make water inequality an issue worth fighting for.  

Something to consider during your next dip in the pool. 

(H/T: HuffPost Impact)