GLOBAL: Salesian Missions Focuses Efforts on Clean Water Initiatives
(MissionNewswire) From safe drinking water and healthy sanitation to agriculture, water is essential for life. According to Water.org, a nonprofit organization that has transformed hundreds of communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America by providing access to safe water and sanitation, more than 750 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.
Water.org estimates that more than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation and hygiene-related causes. Close to 99 percent of those deaths occur in developing countries with children being most at risk. Water.org notes that every 21 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness. Each day worldwide, an estimated 4,100 children under the age of five die from diarrhea and 2,350 more die from malnutrition due to dirty water, inadequate sanitation and hygiene.
Women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the majority of households. For women, particularly those that are head of households, this is time spent away from income-generating jobs and caring for family members. Children in these communities are forced to walk for hours to collect drinking water—water that often proves contaminated and seriously sickens those who consume it. Many of these children are unable to attend school regularly because they must spend time searching for distant wells.
In response to this crisis, Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, has made building wells and supplying fresh, clean water a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work
“The poorest children have the least access to safe water and adequate sanitation and they pay the highest price,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions. “From helping to ensure our communities have access to clean water for drinking and agriculture to helping build a hydro-electric power station, Salesian missionaries working in 132 countries around the globe are committed to focusing on clean water and sanitation projects to ensure clean water access for those we serve.”
Salesian Missions has a long history of developing special infrastructure projects that help communities in need. In addition to building hospitals, schools and youth centers, Salesians have already helped communities which lack clean water, sanitation and electricity. From new water wells in countries throughout Africa to a hydro-electrical station in Bolivia, Salesian Missions and its partners are bringing hope to many communities.
“This is not new work for the Salesians,” adds Fr. Hyde. “We have carried out clean water projects in many countries but this is a renewed commitment to these initiatives because access to clean water is essential for the health of those we serve. It is also important for youth to be in school gaining an education and laying the foundation for a productive life instead of being forced to search for water.” Some examples of Salesian Missions clean water projects:
To address serious water issues resulting from pesticide pollution in a remote area of western Brazil, Salesian Missions worked with members of the Xavante and Bororo Indian communities to obtain clean water from previously inaccessible areas. To do so, they first created wells and designed a mobile drilling truck. To create power, they invented and patented a seesaw pump that would draw water from the depths of the well as children were playing. Now, solar panels are used. The result is reduced risk of disease, access to potable water, improved infrastructure and expanded farming. The endeavor began as an immediate response to a community crisis but has become a well-organized project that ensures the growth of two indigenous groups.
Salesians have a long history of working with poor youth in Cambodia. Continuing this work, the Don Bosco Technical School in Kep Province built a new Mary Help of Youth Water Tower as part of a Water System Project at the school that was made possible by donors through Don Bosco Mondo in Bonn, Germany. Its construction will guarantee water for this large educational community for years to come. Most people in the region utilize well water and this tower, constructed by a group of volunteers, will go significantly deeper than the average well and has two reserve tanks to hold additional water. Using green technologies, the water pump is generated by installed solar panels.
A project started in 2011 by Salesians and International Voluntary Service for Development volunteers was responsible for digging five wells in the Gambella area of Ethiopia. The wells are operated by a hand pump and are between 50 and 60 meters deep, guaranteeing water to local villages that will benefit close to 1,200 people. To ensure that the wells last as long as possible, a village committee has been set up to oversee their management and maintenance.
Safe drinking water is essential for child survival. In India, progress has been made with 84.5 percent of rural and 95 percent of urban populations having sustainable access to safe drinking water, according to the World Bank. At the Don Bosco Center for Learning in Kura, a new training facility focuses on job training in developing technologies concerning water, ranging from plumbing and sanitation to developing efficient methods for utilization and analyzing existing systems for efficient transportation of water. The courses are designed to help youth, who had previously left school, enter the workforce.