Every year since 1993, the international community celebrates World Water Day on March 22, focusing attention on the importance of safe, clean water while advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The day also serves as a reminder of the global population who suffer from water related issues and a call to action to prepare for management of water in the future.
Each World Water Day focuses on a particular theme. This year’s theme is ‘Water and Sustainable Development’ and focuses on the connection between water resources and sustainable development for the future. Water is at the core of sustainable development and relates directly to the viability of poverty reduction, economic growth and environmental sustainability.
According to UN-Water, the United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism on all freshwater related issues, 1.3 billion people cannot access electricity, 768 million people lack access to improved water sources and 2.5 billion people have no improved sanitation, worldwide. For those who have no access to clean water, water related disease is common with more than 840,000 people dying each year from water related diseases.
In addition, women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the majority of households, and globally, spend 140 million hours a day collecting water. 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 others 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.
“Water is essential for life,” 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 always looking to expand their services to meet the needs of the poor youth and families they serve.”
In honor and celebration of World Water Day 2015, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs around the globe that provide clean, safe water to those most in need.
Salesian missionaries 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 water tower as part of a Water System Project at the school that was made possible by donors from Don Bosco Mondo in Bonn, Germany. Christened the Mary Help of Youth Water Tower and constructed by a group of volunteers, the tower provides more water than traditional wells, which are relied upon by most people in the region, as it goes deeper into the ground and has two reserve tanks to hold additional water. It also utilizes green technologies by featuring a water pump that is generated by installed solar panels.The Mary Help of Youth Water Tower will guarantee water for this large educational community for years to come.
With more than 1.2 billion people, India’s growing population is putting a severe strain on the country’s natural resources. Salesian missionaries across India are dedicated to ensuring that access to safe water is a priority in Salesian-run programs and schools and in the communities in which they operate. In Mumbai, alumni from the class of 1969 at Don Bosco High School in Matuga recently enacted the Aqua Pure Water Project. This alumni-led volunteer project is ensuring clean water access at the school for nearly 3,500 children. A.V. Suresh, alumnus of Don Bosco High School, Matuga and CEO of Eureka Forbes, a water purification company, installed the water purification system at the school. As part of the project, he promised that the Eureka Forbes company would commit itself to providing clean drinking water to the school for the next 10 years. In addition, the company is initiating a collaborative project with Don Bosco High School for water harvesting and water recycling at the school which, when it is completed, will be the first of its kind in the country.
Residents in Kenyaface regular water and sanitation shortages. To address the need for clean, safe water, a water borehole restoration project is underway at the Salesian-run Bosco Boys community in Nairobi, Kenya. Made possible thanks to the generosity of donors, the project entails removing all the pipes and the electric pump in an existing 250 meter borehole, cleaning the pipes, replacing rotten ones and removing a massive amount of mud. The restoration of the borehole will ensure proper function of a well on the property while providing clean, safe water for students and faculty at the Bosco Boys community.
Don Bosco Fambul, a leading Salesian educational organization serving disadvantaged youth in Sierra Leone, in collaboration with Brunnenbau Conrad Ltd, a German drilling company, has installed a new water well at Pademba Road Prison in Freetown. The prison faces overcrowding and inadequate food and due to compromised infrastructure, has experienced a serious water crisis with a lack of clean drinking water and water for healthy sanitation and hygiene. The new well will provide 60,000 liters of water each day and new storage facilities to house the water supply will allow for 40 liters of water per prisoner each day.
Like many poor nations around the world, Tanzania struggles to provide clean, safe water to its citizens. Salesian missionaries living and working in Tanzania focus their programs on the educational and social development needs of youth and their families while working to provide safe, clean water for their students. Well digging and restoration projects are underway at Salesian Missions facilities in Tanzania with new wells being created and older wells that have rotten pipes, often filled with mud, being cleaned and replaced in order to bring water to students and faculty involved in Salesian programs.