It is a well-documented fact that access to clean water in the world is becoming a very important issue and you can imagine how much of an issue this is, in many parts of the developing world. In many third world countries, access to clean water is a luxury, and every day people walk for miles in the hopes of finding it. In the rural communities of Uganda and many of the East & Central African countries that include Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, DRC and Burundi, the situation is dire.
Despite steps forward over the past few years, Sub-Saharan Africa “remains at the back of the queue” in terms of drinking water and sanitation, says George Yap, executive director of WaterCan, a Canadian NGO active in East Africa. He says access to drinking water goes hand in hand with access to improved sanitation and hygiene education, which is much less widespread.
The lack of water is an often-insurmountable obstacle to helping oneself. You can’t grow food, you can’t build housing, you can’t stay healthy, you can’t stay in school and you can’t keep working. Without clean water, the possibility of breaking out of the cycle of poverty is incredibly slim. For women and children especially, this crisis is real. It effects every minute of the day.
With unclean water sources often miles from villages, many of the able-bodied members of a community are forced to spend hours each day simply finding and transporting water. The typical container used for water collection in Africa, the jerry can, weighs over 40 pounds when it’s completely full. Imagine how demanding it would be to carry the equivalent of a 5-year-old child for three hours out of each day. And some women carry even more, up to 70 pounds in a barrel carried on the back. That’s like carrying a baby hippo.
The United Nations estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water; that’s the same as a whole year’s worth of labor by France’s entire workforce! This is incredibly valuable time. With much of one’s day already consumed by meeting basic needs, there isn’t time for much else. The hours lost to gathering water are often the difference between time to do a trade and earn a living and not. Just think of all the things you would miss if you had to take three hours out each day to get water.
When a water solution is put into place, sustainable agriculture is possible. Children get back to school instead of collecting dirty water all day, or being sick from waterborne illnesses. Parents find more time to care for their families, expand minimal farming to sustainable levels, and even run small businesses.
The social and economic effects caused by a lack of clean water are often the highest priorities of African communities when they speak of their own development. The World Health Organization has shown this in economic terms: for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return of between $3 and $34! This is where we at Meet The Need Africa Foundation, have identified as a critical area of intervention. We will partner with various stakeholders to procure water-drilling rigs that can help drill wells and boreholes for clean water and provide access to schools, hospitals and various communities in Uganda and other countries in East & Central Africa.
Meet The Need Africa Foundation plans to use these water drilling rigs/trucks to help sustain our projects and programs long term, by renting them to attract much-needed funding for resources to help run our vocational school programs.