Drama: Beyond Water

This drama appeared as part of “Visions: Women for Water” presentation at the 5th World Water Forum on March 16, 2009. This can be used as an educational tool for youths learning about global water and sanitation issues.

Scene 1: The Water Fight

[Woman/Girl 1, Woman/Girl 2, Woman/Girl 3, Woman/Girl 4, Woman/Girl 5, Woman/Girl 6 are on a line and holding empty buckets. They are impatient and getting angry.]

Female Narrator : This may look familiar to you. It’s a long line. And it’s not moving.  And the women are getting impatient. No, this is not a line to receive free samples at a department store. This is a line for a water pump. Of course, this is not an accurate representation of mothers, children, and young women in developing countries waiting for their turn at the pump.

[Bell. The actors freeze for two seconds before moving into the next scenario]

[The women/girls are suddenly raising their voices, shoving each other, pulling each other’s hair, running towards the pump. They are desperately trying to fill their buckets up with water.]

[Bell. The actors freeze.]

Female Narrator: Now, that’s more like it.  For those of you who think that the issue is gender-related, let’s add some men into the scene.

[Bell. The actors move into the next scenario.]

[The line for the water pump is seen. This time, a couple of men are standing in line. The people are impatient. They are wiping sweat from their faces. Woman/Girl 2 accidentally shoves Man 1, and the tension rises into a fight. There is no longer a line but a group of desperate men and women fighting for the water pump.]

[Bell. The actors freeze.]

Male Narrator: The outcome is pretty much the same, despite having mixed genders being responsible for getting water for their households. The issue is the lack of access to water. If there were more water pumps within a reasonable walking distance from each person’s home, retrieving water may not be such a hectic and difficult chore. The time saved can mean education for young children and adults. It can also mean men and women can go to work.

[Bell. The actors move into the next scenario.]

Scene 2: The Classroom

[Teacher is at the front of the classroom. The students are sitting on the floor with notebooks and pencils. Some are smiling and others have eager looks.]

Teacher: Let’s move on to our next session of mathematics. Solve this problem. There are 20 children in the classroom today. Yesterday, there was a full class. However, two children are home sick because of diarrhea. Three children had to miss class to run water errands. One child decides that it is inappropriate for her to be in school now that she is a young adult, so she did not come to class. How many children were in the classroom yesterday?

[The children are scribbling away on their papers. One student in the crowd keeps changing her seating position (crossing her legs, twisting her body around, etc) – the point is, she really wants to pee but afraid to speak up.]

Teacher: Child. [looking at the fidgeting] What’s the matter with you?

Student[timidly] I have to go.

Teacher: Go? Where?

Student: Pee pee. [other children around her are snickering]

Teacher: Then go. Just be quick.

Student: It’s okay. I can wait until night.

Teacher: As you wish. Next time, don’t drink so much water.

[Bell. The children continue to scribble as the child continues to fidget]

Male Narrator: This is what some children have to endure when they attend schools without latrines. They are afraid to go into the bushes to relieve themselves due to privacy issues. They are willing to wait until nightfall to do their business. This scenario is also common amongst women living in slums. They wait until night to go into the bushes, risking their safety for their privacy. Ironic but true.

[Bell. Actors change into the next scene.]

Scene 3: Water and Sanitation

Female Narrator: When it comes to poop, it seems that nobody wants to talk about it. Some feel like they can’t. That it’s not allowed. But poop is something that everyone on this planet, no matter what their economic status is, no matter what their gender is, have in common. Everyone poops. [narrator passes the children’s picturebook Everyone Poops to the audience].

Male Narrator: If everyone poops, then why does it seem that women are having a harder time than men when it comes to pooping? And I do not mean constipation.

[Woman walks into the scene. She looks around. She then walks behind a bush and squats down. She looks up and around her, making sure she is alone. She does not see Man walking behind her. He squats down next to her. She turns to face him. He gave her a nod, a smile, and a wink. She quickly gets up and walks away.]

[Bell. Actors exit the stage]

Female Narrator: Okay. So maybe that’s a bit too extreme. But what they just showed was that there is a serious privacy issue when it comes to pooping in the bushes. So, let’s look at pooping inside houses. Surely, that solves the privacy issue.

[Woman walks into the scene. She squats down on a bucket then leaves. Child runs into the room and accidentally kicks the bucket. Woman comes into the scene and starts yelling at Child.]

[Bell. Actors freeze.]

Male Narrator: Children will be children. They kick stuff. So this happened to be a bucket filled with poop and pee that is now on the floor. What happens now?

[Woman grabs Child and points her towards the mess. Woman leaves the room. The now crying Child walks towards the mess and begins to kick the droppings into the bucket. She grabs a cloth and wipes the floor down. She puts the cloth into the bucket. She then carries the bucket through a door into the outside streets (the actor opens an imaginary door in front of her and walks towards where the audience is sitting). Child chucks the contents of the bucket (put confetti into the bucket for a surprise effect) at the audience then walks back and out of the scene].

[Bell. Woman and Child are seen sitting on the floor and eating with their hands. They are swatting flies, talking, and eating.]

Female Narrator: It’s dinner time. Without running water, the practice of hand-washing is absent from this household. They are not the only ones having dinner. The flies are as well.

[Bell. Actors freeze then exit the stage.]

Male Narrator: Flies that are exposed to open sewage spread diseases. The flies that land on the sewage can land on the food that this family may eat.

[Child is vomiting and looks very ill. Woman walks in swaying and has an ill look on her face. She comes towards Child to comfort her. Child is crying. Woman begins to clean the vomit].

Female Narrator: Diarrhea, worm infestations, and hepatitis are common in areas without proper sanitation. When human wastes are not removed from people’s homes, the diseases can spread quickly.

Male Narrator: Without running water, they can’t properly wash their hands. Without proper latrines, children and adults are exposed to open sewage. Bacteria flourish and get passed on from person to person without much difficulty. Those who are lucky enough to survive these conditions do so in poverty.

[Bell. Actors exit the stage]

Scene 4: Hope

Female Narrator: So what are the outcomes if a village had access to clean water and a sewage system?

[Girl 1, Girl 2, Girl 3 line up facing the audience. They are spaced evenly and are washing their hands, chatting, and talking to one another].

Girl 3: I can’t believe we’re graduating soon.

Girl 2: I’m going to miss this school.

Girl 1: I’m not. I can’t wait to start my job. Finally, I’ll be able to bring home some money.

Girl 3: Your parents must be proud.

Girl 1: I’m sure they are. I am too you know. I worked hard for my grades.

Girl 2: What are you going to do with the money you’ll be getting?

Girl 1: There’s so many things that needs to be done. But, I promised my family that I will make enough money to build our own private latrine with running water. Something like this school has.  What are you girls going to do after you graduate?

Girl 3: I got a scholarship to a university. Starts in just a few months.

Girl 1 and Girl 2: Nice! Congratulations!

Girl 2: My mother wants me to marry a family friend. She said that I’ll be living like a queen if I marry him.

Girl 3: Are you going to? He’s so old!

Girl 2: I was going to get married to my father’s friend; but, I’m going to try to find a job at the Department of Water instead. And if I do well, maybe they will send me to the next World Water Forum.

Girl 1: If you start bringing home money, getting food for your parents and little brother, I think they’ll appreciate that.

Girl 3: And if they don’t agree with you, tell them that the government would want you to.

Girl 2: Huh?

Girl 3: Like everyone in this village, the government wants money. If you start to work, not only will you bring money into the family, but you’re bringing money into the village.

Girl 1: Yeah, then the government can finally be able to collect their taxes since people will actually have enough money to pay them!

[The girls laugh. Teacher walks into the restroom].

Teacher: Shouldn’t you girls be heading to your classes? Just because you are graduating soon does not mean that you can skip your lessons.

Girl 1, 2, and 3Yes, teacher. [the girls walk out of the scene, followed by the teacher].

Male Narrator: It’s quite a simple idea. Provide water and latrines to a group of people and progress and prosperity is born.

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