WORLD WATER DAY: Salesian Missions ‘Clean Water Initiative’ ensures youth around the globe have access to clean, safe water
Programs in Guinea, India, Malawi, Nigeria and Tanzania highlight Salesian initiatives that bring clean water access to schools and communities.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March 22, 2020) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in celebrating World Water Day. Led by UN-Water, the organization that coordinates the United Nations’ work on water and sanitation, the day has been honored on March 22 every year since 1993.
The day focuses 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 suffers from water-related issues and sets calls to action to prepare for the management of water in the future.
Each year, UN-Water sets a theme for World Water Day corresponding to a current or future challenge. This year’s theme, “Water and Climate Change,” focuses on how the two are linked.
UN-Water estimates that worldwide 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and by 2050, the world’s population will have grown by an estimated 2 billion people, pushing global water demand up to 30 percent higher than today. One in four primary schools has no drinking water service, with students using unprotected water sources or going thirsty. In addition, UN-Water notes that more than 700 children under 5 years of age die every day from diarrheal disease linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation.
“Water is essential for life, and it’s critical that Salesian programs around the globe have access to safe, clean water for the health and safety of those we serve,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Improving water access brings a sense of dignity to children and ensures that teachers and students are working and learning in an environment that promotes proper hygiene and has safe drinking water. This reduces the number of waterborne illnesses that can affect those in our schools, keeping them away from important study time.”
In response to this crisis, Salesian Missions has continued its “Clean Water Initiative” making building wells and supplying fresh, clean water a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work.
Sacred Heart Parish in the Diocese of Ebebiyín in the Republic of Guinea, a French speaking province in West Africa, has clean, fresh water thanks to a Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” project. The water well project is one of 18 planned for the area once funding is secured.
The province of Kie-Ntem, in which the Diocese of Ebebiyín is located, is in Guinea’s northeast and has a population of 263,000 people. The area is especially rural and its provincial capital Ebebiyín is 221 kilometers from the next larger city of Bata. In this remote, impoverished diocese there are a number of parishes where the population lives without safe drinking water.
Salesian missionaries hope to alleviate this crisis, increase sanitation, improve the health of children, and supply clean drinking water by constructing wells and cisterns in 18 rural sites.
The villages rely on agriculture and livestock but are unable to achieve more than a subsistence economy. Even though the only water available is of poor quality, it is impossible for residents to purchase commercialized mineral water. The poor quality water is consumed daily without any guarantee for health and often results in harmful consequences. Digging water wells and installing water tanks ensure that people have the clean, fresh water they need.
Students attending the Don Bosco College, located in Golaghat, Assam, India, have access to clean, fresh water thanks to a recent water project funded by Salesian Missions donors. The project is part of Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” which funds and initiates projects to bring clean water to Salesian centers and programs around the globe.
Don Bosco College provides vital education and housing for 150 boys and 180 girls. The high demand for water has the college struggling to provide sufficient supply. Salesian Missions funding enabled Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco College to facilitate a project that included drilling a borewell that provides adequate water for drinking, hygiene, and meeting the basic needs of those attending and working at the college.
Don Bosco High School in Nkhotakota, Malawi, is able to provide clean, fresh water to its students and staff thanks to funding from Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” The funding was utilized to dig a borehole and install a solar pump, providing water to the school.
Don Bosco High School was launched in direct response to the need for education for youth in the southwestern part of Nkhotakota. The school started with 88 students and six teachers. Today, Don Bosco High School has 378 students across four grades educated by 20 teachers. More than half of the students are from the local community, but the school does board 160 students.
“The biggest challenge the school faced was the chronic lack of regular water supply for both our boarding and day students,” said Father J. Czerwinski. “Although the school is near a large lake and connected to the town water source, there were still acute water shortages every day. The town supply is very erratic and unreliable. This caused problems for our students including a lack of proper hygiene, a health hazard, and no water for cooking and drinking.”
Fr. Czerwinski added, “Because of that, we turned to Salesian Missions for the help and assistance, and through donor funding, we were able to drill the borehole and add a solar pump to solve our water challenges.”
Five communities in Nigeria have clean water access thanks to donor funding through Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” The borehole projects have been completed in the Nigerian states of Bagbe, Litaye, Ondo, Akwa Ibom and Imo. Due to geographic conditions, there is very little potable water in this region. People are forced to travel long distances to access clean water for their daily needs or rely on rain and river water, which can sometimes be contaminated.
The five new boreholes will provide clean water, reduce outbreaks of waterborne diseases and eliminate the need for traveling hours each day in search of water. More than 20,000 poor children and families will benefit from this life-saving project.
Students at the Don Bosco Kilimanjaro International Institute for Telecommunications, Electronics and Computers, located in Arusha, Tanzania, have clean water access thanks to Salesian Missions donors. Through Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative,” donors have provided the funding to drill a borehole and test water capacity, build a water tower and install a new water tank, and supply and install a water purifying system.
The Don Bosco Kilimanjaro International Institute serves poor youth and young adults, many from local tribes. A sustainable source of clean water will enable students and staff to fight waterborne diseases, endure the dry season and cultivate the land for food.
Providing a source of technical training for Tanzania’s youth, the institute consists of a 15-acre campus that offers the most advanced training technologies in the region. Its innovative education model is based on a hands-on and student-centered approach to learning with full access to modern learning equipment simulating real-world practical experiences. It is also registered and accredited by the National Council for Technical Education and awards successful graduates with a three-year National Technical Award Level Six diploma.
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