https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lyy4k8q-ks "Water, we need water today Let us pray, let’s pray for the rain Water, we got to have water today Let us pray, let’s pray for the rain Water, will make the banana tree grow And the rain, it’s good for the cane Bamboo, I’ve never seen bamboo so dry Let us pray, let’s pray for the rain Water, we need water today And the rain, it’s good for the brain"
"Water" by Norman Luboff Choir
"Me live ere eight years and neva see it like dis." - My neighbor commenting on the first time our demand for water could not be met by our currently exhausted spring.
Water, Watta...or I grew up in Philly, so it was "wooder." When I moved away from Philadelphia, everybody made fun of me for saying "wooder," so I eventually trained myself to pronounce it correctly. Whatever name you call it, water is our greatest resource.
Jamaica is feeling the effects of climate change, with a pattern over the years of an increase in the length of the dry season and rainfall being less reliable in the rainy season. Most farmers depend solely on the rainfall to water their crops, so the planting times that they have relied on for years have been thrown out of whack. The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has been encouraging farmers to set up irrigation systems, find ways to harvest water (digging ponds or adding tanks to their properties), and keep as much moisture in the soil as possible (mulching crops, composting!).
Running out of water wasn't a complete challenge because fellow Peace Corps volunteer and friend, Whitney, inspired me to be conservative about my water use months ago, long before this newfound shortage came about (Thanks, Whitney!). She taught me ways to conserve water while showering or doing the dishes, and made me realize that just because I had reliable access to water (or so I thought), I should be as least wasteful as possible. Whitney was over to work on the in-progress Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) grant when I first ran out of water, and then Phillip, on vacation leave, with his visiting friend, Silas, called worried that they weren't going to make it home before dark (Peace Corps discourages night travel or activity). Naturally, I told them to come on over, even though it was going to be a challenge to have visitors with very little water (especially when it comes to flushing the toilet, which is the greatest waste of water!).
A community member, Omar, joined our gathering for a shared meal and music, and also took us on a short hike to a natural spring, where we filled up every container that we could find in my house.
Between the five of us, we were able carry up about 17 gallons of water to my house. "Wan an kyaa klap" or "One hand can't clap"- a Jamaican proverb meaning everyone has to join in because the work cannot be done alone! Though it was stressful to have company when I was still adjusting to my water shortage, my friends made it easy and made sure to leave me with plenty of water before they went on their way. In fact, it was a lot of fun to hike down to the spring, because I have yet to adventure to that side of my community.
Now that my company is gone and there's only one person (myself) to transport water, I wake up early each morning and put two 1.5 liter bottles plus one 5 liter bottle in my backpack, and carry a 5 liter bottle in each hand. Therefore I am able to bring close to 5 gallons home in one trip.
Running out of water has been slightly frustrating, but it made me value this natural resource more than ever. It has also allowed me to socialize with my community in a way that I never have before (at the literal watering hole). My community is called Spring Ground, for a reason, and there are multiple springs to hike to, even a swimming hole! If it wasn't for the lack of water, I never would have found this escape to nature that I often crave but thought was out of reach in my community.
To end this post, I would like to illustrate some of the ways that I have been conserving water:
Use all greywater, shower infrequently, and be thankful for water! Wouldn't you know...right before I went to post this, rain started to fall for the first time in weeks---woohoo!
If you need me, I'll be dancing in the rain.