Wikipedia entry on water states that it covers 71 per cent of the earth’s surface and that 96.5 per cent of the planet’s crust water is found in seas and oceans, 1.7 per cent in groundwater, 1.7 per cent in glaciers and ice caps and 0.001 per cent in the air as vapors, clouds and precipitation. Even in this abundance, only 2.5 per cent of the water is fresh water, 98.8 per cent of which is in ice and groundwater. Less than 0.3 per cent of all freshwater is found in rivers, lakes and the atmosphere which means the human race and all other living organisms rely mostly on groundwater for survival.

Water is life: 8 Glasses of water per day

The human body needs 1 to 7 liters of water per day and thus we are advised to drink 8 glasses (2 liters) of water every day. But this is an average and with all averages it fails to deliver the entire truth. First, daily water needs vary and is dependent on the level of activity of the individual and other factors such as the climate of the region of residence. It goes therefore that the consumption needs of a stay at home mum in Nakuru might vary from that of a stay at home mum in Garissa. Additionally, gender might also play a role but this is pure speculation and it can’t be a huge surprise to find some homogeneity.

It is true that most of our water needs can be met through the food and drinks you take but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to the advice to drink more water. Research confirms that water is good for your skin, helps you think, reduces the risk of kidney stones which is evident by the lightly colored urine.

However there’s no evidence that failure to drink 8 glasses of pure water puts us at risk. In fact, a cleverly titled study reported in the November 2002 issue of American Journal of Physiological – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, November 2002, Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Really? Is there scientific evidence for “8×8”? Valtin H cautions that most of the studies that recomend 8 glasses of water a day are sponsored by organisations and companies that produce bottled water. There’s one word for that, marketting.

Could drinking too much water be dangerous?

There is increasing evidence that tap water if consumed in large quantities could increase the risk of bladder cancer. It is therefore important to treat water before we drink it. However, even after drinking treated water we should be on the look-out for the amount of pee that we produce even as the body has a clever way of regulating our water needs, be it through thirst or the urge to pee. We have consistently been advised that the colour of our pee could be an indicator of different kinds of diseases. This is summarised brilliantly by Mona Chalabi in her Instagram Post investigating How much Pee is too much Pee.
She reports that:

… in a 24-hour period, you should produce 800ml to 2 liters of urine. People who produce more than 2.5 liters would be diagnosed with polyuria and at the other extreme, people who produce ???500ml have oliguria and ???100ml they have anuria.

source: www.instagram.com/mona_chalabi

However, it is not easy to quantify the pee produced from our bodies without getting messy.

Where do you get your drinking water?

It is very obvious that many residents in urban areas have piped water be it piped into their dwellings (46 per cent) or public tap (25 per cent) compared to those in rural areas who rely on surface water (24 per cent). Additionally, bottled water is yet to pick up in rural areas.
Generally, 39 per cent of rural residents source water from unimproved sources (uprotected well, unprotected springs, tanker truck/ cart with drum and surface water). This compares to 10 per cent of urban residents who source water from unimproved sources. Majority of residents of both urban (88 per cent) and Rural (59 per cent) source water from improved sources.

Who collects drinking water?

Generally, Adult female collect most of the water used in homes in both urban and rural areas.

How long does a round trip to fetch water take?

As earlier indicated, majority of urban residents have water on their residential premises and even those who don’t spend, less than 30 minutes for a round trip of fetching water. On the other hand, majority of rural residents (40 per cent) spend more than 30 minutes to fetch drinking water. It is a massive relief that 27 per cent(half of the percentage of urban residents) of rural residents can access drinking water on their premises while another 33 per cent spend less than 30 minutes on the round trip. This shows that despite the diverse population there has been steps undertaken to ensure access to water on promises. However, the data fails to indicate the owner’s of the projects that make water available on premises.

Treat it before you drink it

The massive surprise is that an equal proportion (54 per cent) of rural and urban residents don’t treat their drinking water. The leading source of treatment is boiling (26 per cent and 22 per cent for urban and rural residents respectively) and addition of chlorine (22 per cent for both urban and rural residents).

Treating water is the first defense we have against diseases and therefore we should ensure we treat the water we drink.


Data used in this blogpost is picked from The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014

Drinking Water: Treat it then Drink it.

Prestone Adie

I drive Data Analytics where I surface stories from data that might not be immediately obvious. With a background in Actuarial Science I'm proficient in R and Python for data analysis and takes avid interest in anything data. Find me on twitter Follow @AdiePrestone where we can talk data, street food, cars and books.

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