|Posted on April 15, 2014 at 8:50 AM|
780 Million people worldwide lack access to an improved water source… that is about 1 in every 9 people. Here in Africa 345 Million people are without access to clean water. They find water in open water sources (like rivers, ponds, reservoirs), water run-offs, or rain water collection. 3.4 Million people worldwide will die annually from a water related disease (which is almost the entire population of Los Angeles). Majority of illness is caused by fecal matter present in water. More people have a mobile phone than a toilet. And an American taking a 5-minute shower uses more water than the average person in developing country slum uses for an entire day.
Before coming to Uganda, I was one of the privileged Americans who every day of my life had access to clean water…. not only clean water, but the choice of cold or hot water (a true luxury I have learned). I am also a person who savors a good shower, so the final water fact applied directly to me. Even at my current home, we have piped water. It may be only cold water and actually workable an average of 4 days in the week, but it is drinkable and clean. I don’t share these facts to insight guilt in myself or others, but when faced with a situation where water access was so distant and incredibly unclean, I was riveted with shock and dismay.
Kisozi is just one of millions of villages throughout Africa facing similar water challenges. There are 3 options for water within Kisozi. First, villagers can walk about 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) to a river. The water is muddy and murky. They must beware of the occasional crocodile. Secondly, villagers can walk about 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) to a local pond with a reservoir for the cattle. The water there is pale green from algae and shared with the cattle. Lastly, villages can walk about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) to the nearest village to the local borehole. People must pay for this water, and often the borehole’s water source can become stagnant during the dry season. While there are water choices, personally it would be like choosing the lesser of really terrible evils. Round trips to any of the water sources on foot is at least 1 ½-2 hours mostly traveling through thick brush of trees and weeds. It is long, exhausting, and physically strenuous. But water is essential for cooking, bathing, washing, and cleaning, so it must be done.
Typically fetching water is a daily chore for the children or young women. Since they have youth and strength on their side, they would carry small jerry cans or other plastic containers atop their heads. Some families will share an older bicycle which jerry cans can be strapped to each side of the seat, so it is matter of physically navigating the bicycle. The last, more desperate option is to pay a stronger individual to carry water back to the household. A few strong young men actually make a modest living spending their days carrying jerry cans of water for local residence for a small fee.
I was forewarned about the water conditions prior to my visit, so I took several larger bottles of water. When not used to the water, the algae from the pond can cause skin rashes and severe itching, and the river water can carry some crazy bacteria. (Yeah, yeah… perhaps prissy, but for me necessary.) I had the choice, ability and finances to carry my own bottled water. Not a remote option for local villagers in the slightest. Consequently, stomach cramping and intestinal ailments are quite common. Medication is not readily available, so usually people will attempt herbal remedies or just endure.
There are several purification materials on market. I do not pretend to be an expert on them, but I have seen some neat gismos and tablets from visitors to SMKOM concerned about any Ugandan water. I even remotely remember a simple science experiment using charcoal to purify water, but those memories come from a LONG time ago. I have heard of some organizations with the mission to help remote villages establish their own borehole. Quite obviously, water purification is not an area of my expertise. But I am keeping prayerful that there is a solution to this water situation that can be available to all community members of Kisozi. After all, water is life. And it continues to strike me as just unacceptable in this advanced age of technology and innovations that clean water can not be made available to every person.
I welcome any suggestions or reputable resources that anyone would be willing to share on behalf of the community of Kisozi.
Categories: Kisozi Healing Tabernacle Church