June 4, 2010
We turn on the tap a dozen times a day, always expecting and receiving relatively pure, treated water. We use it to drink and cook, do laundry, wash the car and water the lawn. It is the kind of luxury that can’t be imagined by the 40,000 people living in the Tanzanian diocese of Masasi.
10 villages within the diocese have been the target of a concerted effort by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to improve their quality of health.
Water is foundational to good health. Provide clean water and you reduce incidents of typhoid, cholera and malaria, you improve maternal health and reduce child mortality. You also reduce extreme poverty and hunger.
June 5 is World Environment Day. One needs to only think of the effect of an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to be reminded of the importance of water in the environment.
Those 10 villages did have access to water, but it was more than four kilometers away, a four-hour round-trip walk for most women and children who were tasked with gathering water for basic family needs. At least one-half of that four-hour trip involved carrying a 20 kilogram container of water on one’s head while maneuvering mountain trails. The water quality was poor at best; often coming from mud holes which served as drinking stations for cattle.
PWRDF and CIDA are working with the Masasi district government to bring fresh, clean safe water to the villages by drilling boreholes deep into the ground. In addition, there are plans to dig 10 ‘shallow wells’ (‘shallow’ can be as deep as 30 meters) and three ferro-concrete tanks to hold rain water. Costs vary greatly for these different kinds of wells: a borehole costs $17,300, shallow wells cost $8,000 and those rainwater tanks cost $7,000.
The diocese works with the villages to create water committees that are responsible for educating the communities on how to use the pumps properly, how to make minor repairs, and how to collect a small monthly user fee from all villagers in order to make these projects sustainable. Furthermore villagers take ownership of these projects by gathering materials for the work if they are available like locally sand and crushed stone, and by contributing in the form of unskilled labour when practicable.
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.