NORMAN — With large white plastic buckets upon their heads, two gallons of water sloshed to the brim and over the side, but the students trudged on down the South Oval. The farthest feat was to the Seed Sower, and as the sun glared down, heat brought perspiration to the back of their necks.
Once the students successfully completed their trek, they stopped to consider that this tedious walk was but only 11 percent of what the average person has to walk in a day to obtain safe, clean water.
Four University of Oklahoma student organizations, along with the OU WaTER Center — Global Brigades, 1040i, Sooners Without Borders and OU Wells Project — came together Tuesday for a campus water walk to bring awareness about the large number of the world population that do not have access to safe water.
Only 55 percent of the world’s population enjoy the convenience and health benefits of a piped supply on premises, while 45 percent do not. Those without a piped supply on premises must walk for water or do not have regular access. Seven hundred and forty-eight million people in the world do not have access to safe water.
“This is OU’s first water walk. We’re asking students to carry buckets of water to understand what people have to go through to access safe, useable water,” said Beth Huggins, OU senior and Global Brigade participant. “To use water, it’s easy; we turn a faucet. It’s everywhere, like grass. We’ve lost the reality that water is a precious resource.”
OU students could carry the buckets of water for shorter distances, as well as to the Seed Sower statute on the South Oval, Huggins said. If students walked to a line of tables and back to the starting location, then they walked 1.5 percent of what those walk on average a day to obtain safe water.