“Water is critical for sustainable development, including environmental integrity and the
alleviation of poverty and hunger, and is indispensable for human health and well-being.“
In the western world, we take an abundance of clean water for granted. We turn on the tap, fill the washing machine and wash the car with hardly a second thought.
In much of Africa, however, a lack of clean water is not merely an inconvenience causing daily difficulties, it is often a matter of life and death. Thousands of children die each day from
water-born diseases. Eight out of ten of deaths to the under-fives are from diarrhoea caused by contaminated water. So a concentration on this basic aspect of life is so much more than
helping to make the lives of the people – and the children in particular – more convenient.
We are only a small charity and there is a limit to what we can do with the funds available, but we have slowly helped to advance things for the children we support over the past 12 years.
On a number of occasions we have helped to make natural springs secure and available to (I do not exaggerate) thousands of people; communities well beyond the groups and schools within the Dream Scheme family; at Kawanda, Maganjo and at Nsaggu for example.
We have purchased tanks to hold 10,000 litres of rainwater at Bulumbu and at Kawanda, piping this from the gutters of the classrooms during the rainy seasons. This is sometimes a case of famine or feast of course; when the tank empties, there is no more until the next rains come along.
As an aid to improved sanitation we have paid for the provision of latrines at the Little Angels Primary School at Bubebbere. But without a plentiful water supply, the children cannot wash their hands after visiting the toilet and the sickness cycle is perpetuated.
Now, with the support of a very welcome grant from the Département of Seine-Maritime, we are about to embark on our biggest project so far. As many of you know, the school at
Bubebbere is at the heart of our work. It was the first place that we visited back in 2002, and it was the work of George and Berna Senyonga there that first inspired us to become involved. At that time the school used a borehole which was outside the school grounds and the water from it was also a resource for the villagers. The downside was that our colleagues had no control over it and the pump was forever requiring repair. Over the years modifications were made, but it was clearly not fit for purpose as a permanent solution, not least because the school has grown over the years and the orphanage now shares the site.
George discovered a natural spring inside the school grounds and this is where we are able to help. The site is in overgrown bush 600 metres from the orphanage. The first task will be to clear out the vegetation and to make it secure (a protected well), before inserting a borehole. It will be the final stage that takes us into new and exciting territory however. The water will be piped and pumped from here up to the orphanage.
The provision of water all year round will not only be a convenience that we take for granted. It will avoid the need for the children to carry jerry cans, morning and evening, to and from the source outside the school grounds. Perhaps then they will be able to put more productive effort into their school work.
If that were all, we could relax and say, “Job done!” Life is never that simple though. There will still be a need for ongoing education. We cannot be certain that all of the water will be pure. Less than 20% of such water is safe for human consumption. Nothing can be taken for granted. It will still need to be boiled to be sure. Lessons on good health practice and how to deal with infant diarrhoea will not be learned instantly. That will take time and effort.
Even after the completion of this project, we cannot be complacent. There are other schools and villages with equally pressing needs. If only we had a wallet which was forever full ……..! We should cheer the achievements, but never forget how much more there is to do.