27. December 2010 21:25
On Christmas morning Nicola and I were in the kitchen preparing Christmas lunch when we heard the noise of running water from above. Then we saw the water running down the walls from the ceiling. We assumed we had a burst pipe caused by the thaw after the big freeze that preceded it. So we turned the water off. Would it also affect our gas fired central heating system? I phoned Scottish Gas and I was directed through to a call centre, possibly in India. After some deliberation and consultation with others I was told to switch the heating off. Presumably in India they did not appreciate the affect this would have on us in Scotland in mid winter! Thankfully, I managed to get a hold of our local plumber, even on Christmas Day, and he told me that this was nonsense. The central heating was a sealed system separate from the main water supply and would work fine notwithstanding that we had turned the water off. So at least we had heat, if not water. Our neighbours kindly supplied us with buckets of water so we survived Christmas Day and ‘Boxing Day’ (I understand that Boxing Day cannot fall on a Sunday) without water from our taps.
The plumber arrived this morning and discovered that we did not in fact have a burst pipe (as such). A pipe that carries water from the roof has an old connection that comes within the wall cavity but has been blocked off (after the pipe became redundant and had been cut from whatever item it used to drain water from within the house). The lead that sealed it was not holding it watertight. The main pipe down the side of the house was completely frozen. As the snow thawed on the roof it was running down the outside pipes but backing up when it hit the frozen pipe and ended up coming inside the house! It was just a coincidence that it stopped coming in when we turned the water off at the mains – so we could have had water running from our taps on Christmas Day and ‘Boxing Day’ after all!
Living with water from buckets for two days was not a great hardship compared with the problems the current weather has caused for many. We did have to become much more economic with our use of water and it did make us think of our friends in 22 de Enero. I blogged on 17 November 2009 that “The water that the residents have access to is largely underground and away from the housing area, making it difficult to find potable water for family consumption.” We helped Germán to build a water tower but many families had to walk some distance to fill buckets of water and carry them back to their homes. In Glasgow we were able to simply pop next door.
International research and statistics show that:-
- One out of every three city dwellers – nearly a billion people – lives in a slum. (Slum indicators include: lack of water, lack of sanitation, overcrowding, non-durable structures and insecure tenure.) (UN-Habitat: 2006)
- UN-Habitat has reported that because of poor living conditions children in slums are more likely to die from water-borne and respiratory illness. (UN-Habitat: 2006)
Habitat for Humanity agree with the Department for International Development (DFID) that it should be "our moral and religious duty to ensure that we are part of a world where no one has to live in poverty; A world in which all have access to food, shelter, clean water; to a livelihood, health and education; A world in which the rights and dignity of every woman, man and child to live life to the full are respected". (DFID Target 2015, halving world poverty. A Shared Vision of Reducing World Poverty).
Next time you fill a kettle from a tap, run a bath, have a shower or flush a toilet think of those less fortunate in the world who do not have this luxury that we take for granted. You can help by Just Giving.