A few days ago we saw a video that nearly caused us to choke on our almond milk chai lattes. According to Refinery29, California produces more than 95% of the country’s artichokes, walnuts, celery, garlic, plums, and kiwi fruit. The region’s drought could seriously affect the price of our salads, and it’s time we all got a little more conscious about how precious a resource water really is.

A shortage of kiwi fruit sounds pretty scary, right? Wrong. Here’s a truly terrifying consequence of water shortages: In rural, drought-stricken Indian villages, men are taking second and third wives whose sole job is to fetch water every day.

A family in Denganmal village, 90 miles outside of Mumbai. (Photo: Open Magazine)

A family in Denganmal village, 90 miles outside of Mumbai. (Photo: Open Magazine)

According to Open Magazine, these women are called “water wives,” and many of them fetch more than 25 gallons of H2O per day. They make repeated trips to the nearest dam or river throughout the day and sometimes at night as well, bringing back water for drinking, washing, and farming. They make the trek no matter what the weather or how they’re feeling. One young woman “was forced to go fetch water just 10 days after her child was born,” reports the magazine.

Water wives suffer from back and neck pain, baldness (from carrying water on their heads), stunted growth, and fertility problems. And although that gives us a whole new perspective on our first world water problems, it doesn’t diminish them. If anything, it makes us more aware that wasting water is like wasting food. People are suffering for lack of it, and having enough water is not something we should take for granted.

Below is a helpful graphic from the Los Angeles Times highlighting water-hogging foods, from steak to mangoes. And here’s a guide on how to save water, the California way.


Infographic: LA Times

[via Open Magazine]