Africare News Release
Africare Commemorates World Water Day 2007
WASHINGTON, DC, March 22, 2007 — One day a year, advocates from every corner of the globe unite to remind the world just how important clean water is for human survival. Along with food and shelter, water is an essential element of life. Only 60 percent of the world has access to clean water on a daily and consistent basis. The other 40 percent – more than 2.9 billion people, 300 million of whom are in Africa – have only unsafe water to drink and an inadequate supply of water to grow crops without rain. Among the consequences are famine as well as water-borne diseases like cholera.
“The United Nations declares that access to clean water is not only a basic need, it’s a fundamental right for all human beings,” reminds Africare President Julius E. Coles. “Our work at Africare aims to restore this right — this chance to live a healthy and productive life.”
Water and sanitation ranked among Africare’s earliest priorities in its work in response to the great Sahelian drought of 1968-1974. That work continued into the 1980s and throughout the 1990s, when Africare was one of the leading water-and-sanitation NGOs responding to devastating drought in Southern Africa – and as a part of Africare programs in food security, child survival and health. Entering the 21st century, Africare’s commitment to water and sanitation remains strong, with free-standing water resource development projects as well as water projects embedded within larger agricultural and health programs.
“Managing a project like a refugee camp, for instance, involves many different components,” comments Francophone West and Central Africa Program Manager, Malaika Jeter. “In addition to distributing food or building temporary housing units, there are infrastructures that need development and basic services and training that must be delivered. Water is an essential part of this management. At the Gaga Camp in eastern Chad [home to refugees from the conflict in Darfur, Sudan], Africare is charged with the management of day-to-day water/sanitation activities — not only the construction of wells but also water treatment, sanitation and hygiene training, and maintenance duties. That’s simply not the first thought that enters the minds of many individuals who learn we are operating a refugee camp.”
Between 2005 and 2006, Africare implemented nearly 50 projects dedicated to the development and maintenance of water distribution systems and sanitation. “All these efforts are interdependent,” notes Africare President Julius E. Coles. “In order to implement a successful garden, you need access to water. In order to diminish the number of orphans dying from diarrheal diseases, you need clean water.”
Africare development programs will continue to incorporate this precious element into its projects in the coming years. For example, several projects supported by the African Well Fund began in February 2007. The Ntungamo Well Construction Project in Uganda will serve 6,000 community members in the Ntungamo District, and Sierra Leone’s Nyema Water Gravity Rehabilitation Project will serve about 3,000 people in the Kailahun district.