You guessed it, today is WORLD WATER DAY!
To be completely honest, when sitting down to write this blog (with a cup of coffee, made of water, of course)…I stared at my blank computer screen for a good 30 minutes. Despite the fact that water is important, I had nothing to say. I felt that anything I wrote would be redundant…I mean, there are so many water campaigns bombarding us on a daily basis. What else is left for me to say? What can I possibly write that will stand out from everything you’ve already heard?
But that’s exactly the point.
It doesn’t matter if it’s redundant. Water is important. In fact, it’s more than important. It’s a necessity. It’s crucial. It’s life-giving. It’s powerful. It can lead to beauty, healthy, growth and new life. It can also lead to destruction and death.
It is used for cooking, electricity, bathing, firefighting,………
People even write songs about it. Like this. And this.
It symbolizes peace, fluidity, and relaxation.
It covers 70% of our planet’s surface and makes up 70% of the adult body!
The United States uses about 346,000 million gallons of fresh water every day. (whoa)
It is a natural substance that I, without hesitation, consume gallons of on a daily basis.
Yet, there are humans, livestock, land, and crops that go without clean water, or any water at all, for months on end. Some go without clean water their entire lives.
Painting in Garissa, Kenya promoting drinking clean water.
Through my work with World Concern, I have been exposed to the painful effects that the lack of clean, accessible water can have on a community. I have heard countless stories of individuals who spend the majority of their waking hours traveling to water sources, only to find them contaminated. Their long journeys to and from a dirty water source often leave them without time to earn a living wage and properly care for their families. Kijoolu and Kiraposho are examples of such stories.
I have also heard countless stories of individuals who drink, wash, and cook from a Typhoid and Amoeba infested water source because it is the only option.
Dirty river in Garissa. Prior to World Concern’s recent installation of water tanks, this was the community’s only water source.
Washing in the dirty river.
Contaminated water source in a village in Olkinyei, Kenya. Before the recent installation of a water pump, this was the only option.
Even living in Nairobi, a bustling city with plenty of water sources, I walk by individuals bathing in and drinking from the rancid, dark brown, murky river that runs through the city’s gutters and streets almost on a daily basis.
Okay – Yes I have to use a water filter and I don’t brush my teeth from the faucet, but I have no idea what it feels like to carry a 50 gallon jug of water on my back…daily. For miles on end. Sometimes multiple times a day.
Empty Jerry can. Garissa, Kenya.
I also have no idea what it feels like to go a day without water (I am almost embarrassed to say this. I think I will do a water fast soon to experience a small sense of solidarity with our beneficiaries…). *
Here’s the good news.
World Concern is doing our best to combat the lack of clean and accessible water for thousands of individuals around the world.
Currently, this is what we’re up to:
1. Partnering with communities to build their own water sources such as: deep wells, shallow wells, pumps, roof catchments, boreholes, berkads, water pans, and rainwater harvesting.
Water tank in Eastern Kenya
Water pan in Narok, Kenya. Though it is not visible here, there is a large fence around the water pan to protect it from wild animals and contamination.
This picture was recently sent to me from Harako, Chad. These people are collecting clean water for the first time ever. I’m not kidding. Prior to a few weeks ago, the people of Harako had never had a reliable water source. They would gather water by digging into the sand with their hands. Because the majority of families have no pit latrines, the ground and water were unbelievably contaminated. World Concern sponsored the drilling of this deep well, which will produce 1,902 gallons of water per hour! This is also a great platform to teach hygiene and sanitation.
Another photo taken of the deep well in Harako, Chad. Photo cred: World Concern staff, Chad.
World Concern berkad in Somalia. Photo Cred: World Concern staff, Somalia.
Pumping away in Olkinyei.
Large water tank. Garissa, Kenya.
2. Educating communities about the importance of drinking, cleaning, and cooking with clean water. [Because many of the people we work with have never had access to clean water, they’ve never been aware of a life without consistent diarrhea and other uncomfortable waterborne diseases.] This includes the installation of latrines and hygiene education, also known as WASH (another acronym for ya!).
Fahad says, “We love clean drinking water!” Garissa, Kenya.
Gettin’ after it. Thirsty, anyone?
Promoting hygiene. A hand washing tank outside of a World Concern pit latrine.
VIP: Ventilated Improved Pit Latrine.
3. Partnering with communities to install water storage and rainwater catchments to be used for agricultural purposes.
Access to water means growing bananas!
If you’re reading this and feeling numb, don’t fret. In a sense, your numbness may be an affirmation that this news does not shock you – you are aware! Rather than feeling guilty about all of the clean water you can consume at any moment of the day, I encourage you to really consider how you can give clean water to just one other person. Start with one. One is huge. Progress from there.
Today, I also urge you to consider moving beyond awareness. Check out and donate to World Concern’s various water projects, pray, research, and spread the word. Maybe even go without a cup of water for a few hours.
Knowledge is power, but if it doesn’t move from our head to our hands, lives will not be changed.
* Ironically enough, an hour after writing this post, I came down with a 12 hour flu. Needless to say, I had no more water in my system. I was super thankful to be near clean water sources during such an uncomfortable sickness.