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Walking for Water (Introduction)

SUBJECTS Geography/History, Math, Social Studies
GRADE LEVEL Primary (K-3) / Junior (4-6) / Intermediate (7-8) / Senior (9-12)
PLEDGE 2 - Human Right to Water

Resources Needed:

  1. Image for Walking for Water from Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products by Stephen Leahy (see attachment)
  2. Printable handout of discussion questions (see attachment)
  3. Background Information: The World Health Organization’s definition of what constitutes “reasonable access to water” is having a source of at least 20 litres (5 gallons) per person per day within 1 kilometre (0.6 mile) of the water user’s home.


  1. Ask students, If you needed to get a drink of water, or fill up your water bottle, how far would you have to go? How many steps do you think that would be? How long would it take you to get there? Have them record their estimates to be used later in the lesson.
  2. Take the class on a trip to the closest water fountain. Have students count their steps and time how long the trip takes. You can measure the distance as well using standard or non-standard units of measurement. 


  1. Explain that in many countries, people do not have clean water coming into their house or school through pipes. They have to walk to get to the water they need. Show the image from Your Water Footprint by Stephen Leahy and discuss the information from the image (which includes the return trip from the water source):
    • Average steps to collect water in developing countries in Africa and Asia – 10 000 steps
    • Average distance travelled to collect water – 6 km 
    • Average time spent walking and collecting water – 6 hours
  2. Use the following discussion questions to help students comprehend the data:
    • 10 000 steps is about 6 km. How many steps or km do you think you walk in a day?
    • What else do you think these women could be doing for these 6 hours a day if they had clean water available in their homes?
    • Children (usually girls) are often responsible for collecting water. If they’re spending 6 hours a day collecting water, what would they not be able to do? If you were spending this much time walking for your own water, what would you have to give up in your life? What would you have to change?

Follow Up Activities:

  1. Try some of the many lessons for The Water Princess by Susan Verde.