By Amy Asmussen
Educating. Equipping. Empowering. One drop at a time.
As our Water Relief Capaign draws to a close, we continue to reflect on the vital importance of clean water access and what it means for our beloved communities in Licilo, Siteki, and the surrounding areas. As we focus our attention on building our newly-funded wells (thank you, donors!) and delivering clean water to our communities, we must also take a moment to examine the big-picture issues so that we can better equip, educate, and empower through short term funding for longterm solutions.
In Africa, water scarcity affects one in three people. The continent continues to face a dire water crisis due to a widespread lack of accessible water sources, limited rainfall, and poor sanitation. The water crisis affects all other facets of life, from agriculture and economy to health and education.
According to The Water Project, water scarcity is directly linked to poverty. Due to the lack of available water sources, many people must travel long distances to find water, making it difficult for some to work or attend school. Agriculture makes up 15% of Africa’s annual GDP. It is crucial for economic sustainability. Water is necessary for farming, and families below the poverty line cannot hope to achieve self-sustainability without the means to grow their own food. Due to the lack of accessible sources of clean water, we cannot hope to break the poverty cycle.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, poorer, rural communities are suffering a food shortage. Food insecurity due to the virus is not specific to Africa. The United Nations World Food Program estimates the economic hardship across the globe will result in a doubling of the number of people suffering acute hunger. Though Africa’s food production is currently at a surplus, government-ordered lockdowns due to the virus have led to widespread economic hardship and a decrease in demand for goods. Travel bans stemming from efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in a lack of access to goods and services for many communities.
At One Heart Africa, we are working to build new wells and service existing wells so that our communities in Mozambique and Eswatini can continue growing their own food. Lumbombo Valley Farms is continuing normal production, which we are donating to families within our communities.
The water crisis also puts populations at risk for the spread of water-borne illness and disease. Without proper sanitation facilities or restrooms, illness spreads quickly. It is common for children to die of dehydration and diarrheal illness due to unsanitary drinking water and poor hygiene. Cholera cases are highest in Sub-saharan Africa, where water sanitation and sewage management are poor, according to the World Health Organization. Water is essential for basic personal hygiene, which is the most effective method of illness prevention and especially crucial as we continue to battle a global pandemic.
Mozambique and Eswatini are currently suffering a severe drought that has lasted nearly a decade. According to UNICEF, 51% of Mozambique’s population lacks access to clean water, and 75% of Mozambicans don’t have access to proper sanitation facilities.
In Eswatini, the situation is just as bleak, with 40% of the population lacking access to clean water. Though over 400 wells, or boreholes, have been drilled into Swazi soil, only 10% of the country’s groundwater has been accessed, according to The Water Project, and many water relief projects and infrastructure in Eswatini are no longer functioning due to improper maintenance and limited resources to maintain them.
Populations in rural areas suffer the effects of the water crisis most heavily. The Water Project reports a dismal 16% of people living in the rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa have in-home access to clean water, through a tap or other source. In Mozambique and Eswatini, many rural populations rely on naturally-occuring surface water, such as lakes and ponds. Many of these surface water sources are unsanitary or dry up due to limited rainfall. Additionally, people oftentimes must travel great distances to access these surface water sources. Children are absent from school or drop out altogether in order to make the daily trek to retrieve water for their families, and women and girls are at a great risk of assault when traveling alone far outside their village. Finding water costs time. Many people spend their days collecting water rather than earning a living or attending school, and the United Nations estimates Africa’s population spends 40 billion hours a year collecting water.
One Heart Africa recently launched a Water Relief Campaign in order to fund the maintenance of our existing wells and build two new, desperately needed wells. Thanks to the support of our donors, we are proud to announce we have exceeded our donation goal! We would like to thank Jane and Kate Boutique for their incredible generosity. Your donations will ensure our communities have access to clean water, so that they can continue to grow food, practice preventive health measures, and enjoy a higher quality of life. You have made a world of difference!
Though we have reached our goal, there is still work to be done.
We must break this cycle of water scarcity, poverty, and illness. At One Heart Africa, we are working tirelessly to empower our communities in Mozambique and Eswatini through relief efforts, education and equipment.
To further aid water relief efforts before our campaign ends, purchase a limited edition long sleeve tee before it’s too late!
To find out more ways you can help, click here.
You may choose to donate to the project that most interests you, or choose to give to the area of most need.
At One Heart Africa, we are committed to reducing the effects of the water crisis, one drop at a time.