International World Water Day is held annually on March 22 as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating March 22, 1993 as the first World Water Day.
“Water is life,” says Glen Spurrell, outgoing Africa program officer for The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. During his trips to Africa over the years he has come to deeply appreciate the incredible value of water to village communities. He speaks fondly of the integrated development projects – water, sanitation, hygiene, agriculture, nutrition and health care â€“ implemented in 10 villages in the southeast of Tanzania where those communities are being transformed. Masuguru, with a population of 2,645, is one of those villages. The Diocese of Masasi, Anglican Church of Tanzania, is a long-term PWRDF partner with 15 years of experience working with communities on integrated development projects.
Before water was brought into this community, the women had to walk 7 kilometers to get water. On average, says Spurrell, women in the Masasi region spend about four hours a day hauling water, walking more than four kilometers. The return half of that time involves carrying a full bucket or jerry can on their heads. “Bringing water to a village is not hugely expensive,” Spurrell says. A borehole, a minimum of 70 meters deep, costs about $30,000. That depth is required to guarantee an adequate water supply during the long drought season. An adequate water supply leads to improved health, improved sanitation and increased agriculture.
Water-related work does not end (or begin) with drilling wells. In recent years the Masasi area has experienced a change in rainfall and the rainy season is no longer predictable. This has lead to drought and famine. This year in partnership with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, the Diocese of Masasi and PWRDF have provided food assistance to 6,238 school children in 2,740 households in 26 villages in the Masasi and Nanyumbu districts of Tanzania. The project provided at least one meal of corn-soy blend per child, per day. Children are among the most vulnerable. When they lack food, they lack energy and this often results in increased school drop-outs and long-term health problems. Children were served a form of stiff porridge (ugali) at their schools for 55 school days from January 4 to March 19. The school feeding project contributes directly to improved health and improved education. The next harvest, providing sufficient food, should coincide with the end of the feeding program.
The Diocese also introduced a short-term Food for Work program designed to compensate villagers with food in order to help them continue to provide labour for the various activities in the program. This has proven to be quite effective, guaranteeing the important work gets done while ensuring the villagers have enough to eat.
Anglicans across Canada can share in this life-changing experience for themselves when they donate to PWRDF. They aren’t giving away funds; they are giving of themselves. They are investing a portion of themselves into the lives of those villages through their gift to PWRDF. Regular contributions to PWRDF ensure regular support for the programs being carried out by its global partners.