WORLD WATER DAY: The Salesian Missions ‘Clean Water Initiative’ ensures access to clean, safe water
Led by UN-Water, World Water Day is celebrated March 22.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March 22, 2022) Top of Form 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 U.N.-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. While serving as a reminder of the global population who suffers from water-related issues, the day also sets calls to action to prepare for the management of water in the future.
Each year, U.N.-Water sets a theme for World Water Day corresponding to a current or future challenge. This year’s theme, “Groundwater – Making the invisible visible,” focuses on finding and safely using available groundwater. It’s noted that groundwater supports drinking water supplies, sanitation systems, farming, industry and ecosystems. But in some places, groundwater is over-used and polluted. In other areas, it’s unknown how much groundwater is available. Groundwater will play a critical role in adapting to climate change.
U.N.-Water estimates that worldwide more than 2 billion people are living without access to safe water. One in four primary schools has no drinking water service, with students using unprotected water sources or going thirsty. In addition, U.N.-Water notes that more than 700 children under age 5 die every day from diarrheal disease linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation.
“Many places around the globe lack safe clean water for drinking, cooking and other needs,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “In response to this ongoing water crisis, Salesian Missions has continued its “Clean Water Initiative”—which makes building wells and supplying fresh, clean water a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work.”
In honor of World Water Day, Salesian Missions is highlighting completed water projects that have impacted youth and entire communities.
Close to 5,000 people in villages across the Bono region of Ghana have access to clean water thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The seven projects, part of the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative,” provided new boreholes, hand pumps, and in a few of the projects, water tanks to the villages.
Water remains one of the main challenges in the Bono region. Access to the nearest available water sources is several miles from these villages. The residents, mostly farmers, depend on stream water for all their needs and have to share it with grazing animals.
The health and social implications of utilizing this water are having devastating effects on the community. Residents have waited for a long time for a better and cleaner water source for drinking, cooking, and other activities, and they are appreciative of the support and assistance.
Leticia Gyan, a community resident in the village of Nafa Nkwanta, said, “It has been our dream and we have been praying about it. It is really difficult to find drinking water here when the stream dries. Sometimes we have to go to Senase, a community 7 km away, to get some water for drinking. So, we have to ration it otherwise. When we finish it, we have to walk through hills and valleys to reach Senase in order to get water again. I think now we can also bathe. I am very happy. We are all happy.”
People living in four poor communities in the Kebbi State of Nigeria have access to clean water thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The project, part of the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative,” provided borewells in the communities of Koko, Tarsha Dan Isah, Tunga Noma and Tunga Dikko.
Prior to this project, people in these communities had to use dirty pond water and depend on unhygienic stream water and rainwater. In addition, women and children were responsible for searching for water far from their homes, which put them at risk of violence.
Father Anthony Ekezie, who oversaw the project, noted, “The new water sources have brought back life to thousands of poor women, girls, boys and men in the four rural villages. Now, people have access to safe water and can obtain the recommended daily water consumption of the United Nations. Apart from having clean water to drink, the people have enough to adhere to the regular washing of hands to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other infections.”
More than 1,100 students and 100 teachers at Don Bosco schools in Lahore and Quetta, Pakistan, have clean drinking water thanks to donor funding from the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.”
In Lahore, a commercial reverse osmosis purification system was added on the roof of Don Bosco Technical School along with a water tank and pump. An old water system was also repaired on the roof of the hostel and the Salesian residence. In Quetta, the project provided water dispensers and a demineralizer with an adequate capacity.
Naveed, a student, said, “I am studying electrical DAE in the Don Bosco Technical Center. I really like the water from the new purification plant. Thank you very much.”
Salesian schools in Quetta and Lahore offer quality education and an innovative teaching style. Salesians first started providing education in Pakistan in 1998, and today, their educational centers are considered some of the best education in the country.
St. James Parish in Chimese, a village in Zambia, has clean water thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The project, part of the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative,” provided a new borehole, 22-foot-high tank stand, solar pump and water reticulation network within the parish premises.
Chimese is a large village of approximately 6,500 people. Most families own a shallow well that dries up each October to January. The new water project drilled a hole deep enough to provide water year-round.
St. James Parish is made up of people in Chimese and 15 other surrounding villages who will utilize water from the new water pump. More than 500 people come to the parish on Sundays and can use the water facilities. There are also more than 200 children who attend St. James Pre-School, most of whom are orphaned or children of single mothers.
In Chimese and the surrounding villages, women and children are responsible for fetching water for their families. Musonda Chishala is an orphaned child who had to walk almost half a mile daily for water, causing him to miss time in school. Chishala now draws water from St. James Parish and is able to use the rest of his free time for studies and recreation. Along with Chishala, children at the pre-school can now use the toilets and drink water during the morning break rather than using pit latrines and drinking water from shallow wells and buckets. Hygiene has improved at the pre-school as a result.
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