Women climbing a stepwell near Amber Fort in Jaipur, Rajasthan
© Shanna Baker/Offse
Celebrating World Water Day
The stepwell that these women are climbing is an apt image to mark World Water Day. Stepwells originated in western India over a thousand years ago as a way to easily and reliably access freshwater—even during the driest months. The Panna Meena Ka Kund stepwell in Jaipur is a classic example of the beautiful, regular, geometric architecture used to produce these useful public works. Most stepwells also feature shaded side chambers where locals (primarily women) can gather to escape the heat of the day.
In this image, one can see obvious signs of previous high-water marks on the well's walls as seasonal fluctuations and the changing climate affect water levels throughout the region. The impact of climate change on freshwater accessibility is the theme that the United Nations has chosen for this year's World Water Day. The goal of today's observance is to focus attention and energy not just on those problems, but on potential solutions as well.