WORLD WATER DAY: Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” ensures youth around the globe have access to clean, safe water
Programs in Ghana, India, Nigeria, and Vietnam highlight Salesian initiatives that bring clean water access to schools and communities.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March 22, 2019) Salesian Missions joins UN-Water, the organization that coordinates the United Nations’ work on water and sanitation, and the international community in celebrating World Water Day. Every year since 1993, the international community has celebrated World Water Day on March 22. 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 suffer from water-related issues and sets calls to action to prepare for 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, “Leaving no one behind,” adapts the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit.
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 have 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 Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Improving water and sanitation facilities 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.
Salesian missionaries operate four centers across Ghana that serve poor youth who are at risk of child labor and human trafficking. There are two centers in the urban area of Accra, a new center in the town of Tatale and a center in the city of Sunyani, the first place Salesian missionaries launched programs in the country more than 25 years ago.
A Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” recently provided funding for water projects in Sunyani and Tatale to give residents access to clean drinking water. Many had been using creeks and waterways for drinking water which can lead to sickness and waterborne diseases. In total, four boreholes have been dug and a water tank provided, resulting in clean drinking water for residents. An additional five boreholes are still needed and Salesian missionaries await additional donor funding to cover the expense.
The Don Bosco Center Rangajan, located in the Indian state of Assam, is constructing several restroom facilities that include 50 new toilets and a septic tank, thanks to funding from Salesian Missions donors. The project is part of a Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” which will ensure that the mostly poor, indigenous residents from a number of remote villages who use the center will have access to adequate facilities.
At the Don Bosco Center Rangajan, Salesian missionaries provide both a high school and vocational technical training facility. Constructing decent restroom facilities in these villages will help improve health and hygiene as well as curb the outbreak of disease.
With more than 1.3 billion people, India’s growing population is putting a severe strain on the country’s natural resources. According to Water.org, close to 77 million people do not have access to safe, clean water and 769 million have no sanitation services. Most water sources throughout the country are contaminated by sewage and agricultural runoff.
Funding from Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” has provided the funding for the construction of 10 water boreholes in communities in Nigeria. To date, boreholes have been completed in the towns of Ibadan, Akure, Ondo, Ijebu Ode and Onitsha. In each of these towns, Salesian missionaries operate programs that provide education and help to meet the basic needs of poor youth and their families.
The implementation of the first phase of the clean water initiative started in August 2018 and was completed in February 2019. Local contractors worked under the supervision of Salesian missionaries who ensured the work was done properly and on budget. Drilling and tank installation has been completed at all five locations. As part of the second phase of the project, the construction of boreholes has begun at Salesian centers in the towns of Koko, Abuja and three others in the Benue State.
The new water supply will help ensure that poor youth, their families and Salesian missionaries living and working in the area have access to safe, clean water for drinking and cooking and for personal hygiene. This project also ensures access to water for Salesian youth centers that are providing services for street children.
Underprivileged youth and their families in Bao Loc, a city in the Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam have clean, safe drinking water thanks to a new water purification system that has been installed at the Salesian-run Tan Tien Intermediate Vocational Training School. The project was made possible thanks to funding from a Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.”
Access to safe, clean water both at the school and for those living in the surrounding community is a concern. Officials in the Lam Dong province have indicated that there are pollutants in the rivers caused by agricultural activities and mining. Local farming methods often use herbicides that cause the local waters including rivers, canals and lakes to be extremely polluted, affecting people’s health.
In order to ensure the water is safe to drink, Salesian missionaries used funding to develop and implement a new water purification system that meets all standards and requirements for water quality. In order to accommodate the specific water conditions in Vietnam, the water system has been upgraded and improved to ensure maximum power and stability of the equipment while operating. To provide easy access to water, three new water tanks hold the purified water which are piped to taps where water is available.
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