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A Water Crisis in India and Its Impact on Women and Children

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Clean Water: Don’t live with it. Can’t live without it – Miki Kimura


One of the top global issues we face today is the water crisis, as it is an issue that affects all global communities. “The water crisis is the lack of potable water and sanitation facilities, for a given population” although water is a human right and the planet has enough fresh water to provide for seven billion people. The unbalanced distribution, the amount of water people waste and pollute, the natural disaster, and all those aspects create the water crisis. In the world, 2.1 billion people don’t have access to potable water including 4.5 billion people who lack basic water for sanitation services. Multiple areas that heavily suffer from water scarcity don’t have latrines and practice open defecation, which eventually washes into the communities water supply. As billions don’t have the choice to drink fresh water as there is none, consequently many develop waterborne diseases since they consume infected water that is contaminated with human waste. Furthermore, unsanitized water increases child and maternal mortality rates. Waterborne disease is the leading cause of disease and deaths as there are more than 3.4 million deaths each year globally.

“When our very survival is at stake, how can the economy go unscathed? Widespread water scarcity will affect millions of lives, not just human, but of trees and animals too.” As humans die and water scarcity continues it impacts employment and all aspects of the economy as water is the fundamental pillar of our lives, supporting companies, agriculture, and industries.

Moreover, many countries consider women as providers of the family as the burden falls on them to find the water for the families’ survival. They would put in a great effort and pay a large sum of money, wait in long queues, or walk long distances in order to acquire the water that’s needed. Collecting water causes numerous negative health risks such as physical discomfort, emotional stress, and danger of sexual violence. “Women and children generally have the less physical capacity to carry heavy loads than adult men,” making it tougher and more exhausting. The physical pain is due to the endless walk with heavy loads every day. This fatigues and drains their body and other areas resulting in poor posture, neck problems, head/back pain, and etc… Further, women experience emotional stress from the lack of water and managing their menstrual hygiene. The water crisis creates emotional stress since many occasions lead them to face obstacles and hopeless decisions.

Constantly women must decide to die without water or face the consequences of drinking dirty water that could potentially lead to the death of her family. This includes pregnant women as well, who carry heavy gallons of water, causing harm to their unborn child and affect their emotions greatly due to pregnancy hormones. As previously stated many rural areas lack latrines and practice open defecation. This leads to women and girls holding to go to the bathroom since it is embarrassing for them to open defecate. Although, as they wait till dark there is a risk of sexual violence and they are either raped or killed. In the world of 7.7 billion people, some don’t have access to clean water which is the cause of many hardships, especially for women and children in India.

In parts of Asia and Africa, the average distance for women and children is six kilometers per day, however, in India women and children around the rural areas have an average of five to 20 kilometers every single day. The research question I focused on is “why is India undergoing a huge water crisis and what are the specific impact on women and children?” Since India is suffering it’s worst water crisis in history, as their population of 16% in the world outways the amount of freshwater India has of 4%. This is very unbalanced as I wanted to explore the reasons to this crisis. In addition, women in India’s norms are to collect water, which means they lose hours of time, either for education, work, or free time. So how those water scarcity specifically affects their physical and mental state. This paper answers my question by informing the situation in India and the specific things the women go through in their daily life.

India’s Water Crisis

The material in this paragraph is largely drawn from ‘India facing the ‘worst water crisis in its history’ – BBC News –’ India is the second most populated country in the world and half of the population is suffering it’s worst water scarcity as it continues to escalate. Due to the depletion of groundwater, increase in populations, and the climate change eliminating the water supplies. 600 million of 1.3 billion Indians face water stress, although India extracts the highest amount of groundwater in the world. It is likely that by the next year of 2020, 21 cities in India will likely lose all its groundwater. There is a further demand for water as the population proceeds to increase and the urban area grows bigger. A report estimates by 2030 the need for water will be twice as much available.

The Himalayan is one of the providers of drinkable water for India. However, due to climate change evidence shows that the glaciers in the Himalaya are disappearing as there would be no water contribution to the region’s water supply. Climate change affects other factors like temperature and weather conditions. Creating droughts during the summer months, further drying up most of the wells and taps. Floods contaminate the rivers and lakes. Monsoon rains are needed for agriculture through the weather conditions have become unpredictable. Monsoon would be delayed or inadequate.

These situations lead the Indians to extract more water from the ground, although groundwater is unsuccessful at times as irrigation techniques are poor and leakage is common. It was reported that 50 % of groundwater is contaminated with toxic elements from landfills, pollution, and industrialization. In addition, 40% of surface water is contaminated with bacteria. There are two types of water pollution the geogenic, caused by nature, and the anthropogenic, caused by humans. Geogenic is natural disasters as mentioned above such as droughts, floods, and etc… Anthropogenic is pollution and open defecation by humans. In India, almost half of the population freely defecate polluting their own water from the lack of toilets, contributing to disease, loss in economy, violence to women, and great effect on the rural areas where there is no hospital or medicine in reach.

This quote explains the reasons to the high contamination percentage of India’s water. “India does not have an adequate number of sewage treatment plants, so untreated urban wastewater is often added to water flowing downstream – the same contaminated water used in rural areas for drinking, according to the report.” Only 30% of wastewater is treated and the other 70% of the untreated water is dumped into rivers, lakes, and groundwater. As each year 200,000 Indians die due to lack of access to safe and clean water.

India has overused its water, forcing people to search beyond their homes. As women are families providers in India, they have many responsibilities. That isn’t just collecting water. In the rural area where water is hard to get, women and children have tough everyday routines as they set foot from sunset to find a well with water. “Indian women can take up to six trips a day just to gather and transport enough water.” They would carry about more than 20 liters of water in jars and buckets every trip. The main necessity for women is water as their other duty consists of cooking, cleaning, and washing. Not only that women in India also take over the fields to plow and weed. They raise livestock including her own children, while the men look for jobs in the urban area. Getting water, doing housework, and taking over agriculture is taking a toll on women’s physical and mental health, along with drinking the dirty water. “The health of the family and herself is at risk and her education is neglected because of her long, daily tasks. As a result, the total family is harmed.”

Indians drink contaminated water and develop the waterborne disease, and as children are weaker to illnesses about 500 children under the age of five die from diarrhea every day only in India. Criminals wait upon women and children to take advantage of them when they are worn out and weak. There was an incident in India when two girls of age 14 and 15 went to go out for the bathroom in the dark and got gang raped and killed. They can experience the danger of rape, murder, and at times are stalked by a human or wild animal: boars, hyenas, and snakes. Other cases are of girls who slip and plunge down about 40 feet or deeper to the bottom of the well breaking their bones. Every aspect of the water crisis is dangerous.

Women lose their own opportunities and possibility. From the age of ten many girls in India drop out of school to contribute to the household tasks. Another reason is because of the lack of toilets in school, as girls begin to start their menstruation around the age of ten. It’s embarrassing and hard to take care of themselves, where there is no bathroom for both women and young girls. “23% of girls in India drop out of school on reaching puberty due to lack of water and sanitation facilities.” When they drop out of school they are stuck in a cycle they can’t get out of and must continue to collect water each and every day as the water crisis continues to grow bigger. “Across India as a whole, it is estimated that women spend 150 million work days every year fetching and carrying, equivalent to a national loss of income of INR 10 billion/ 160 million USD3.”

Needed Solution

People that have running tap water value water so little, this is one of the major contributions to water scarcity. People need to be educated on how extreme this global issue of water is. We must use water efficiently and change individual lifestyle. People need to conserve water and not take it for granted. Another thing we can do as an individual is reducing the level of pollution, as it drives global warming and melts frozen freshwater from the glacier, cause floods, droughts, and air pollution contaminating the rain. Also, contribute to organizations that build wells or provided the people in need with water. Even if it’s a little contribution with a whole, the water crisis can gradually come to an end. Only if everyone is determined.


Water is the basis of everything, from all living organism’s existence to the development of urban, rural, and all ecosystems. India is impacted by the water crisis remarkably as it is a country that has over a billion in population and half struggle to live life to full potential because of the absence of safe water. Although this was specifically on India’s water crisis, everything that’s happening in India is happening and will happen to the whole world, unless we do something about it. 43 countries and 700 million people are already in distress from water scarcity. India experiences many issues relating to water.

First, global warming impacting their source of freshwater. Second, the increase in their population and demand for more water in this situation of the water crisis. Third, nearly zero of the largest reservoir of freshwater, groundwater. Fourthly, the lack of toilets and treatment plants both lead to contamination of the potable water. Fifthly, women and children are drained due to overburden, they lose opportunities for education and jobs, and they are sexually harassed or murdered. Finally, millions die each year because of the waterborne disease consuming contaminated water. This exact consequences that impact India will take place in other counties in a few years. Based on the information on India’s water crisis, in order to avoid this case for the whole world we must do the things mentioned above on Needed Solutions. This will help women use their time efficiently and be safe.

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