March 22 marks World Water Day’s 29th year. In 1993, World Water Day was first observed to raise awareness of potable water as an invaluable resource and a right for all. Water means survival. You can survive only three days without water. However, water means more than you might think. It is intrinsically involved in much of our lives and its lack or inaccessibility, therefore, has broad implications. Addressing water issues not only ensures survival but also restores and uplifts human dignity.
After its establishment in 1985, some of ADRA Canada’s earliest projects included providing safe water to communities. Throughout its lifetime, ADRA has dug wells, repaired water systems, distributed water tanks and filters, and implemented many more activities that help families to have the water they need when they need it. These examples only scratch the surface of ADRA’s work in bringing fresh, safe drinking water to communities.
A young girl in Sudan fills water jugs for her family at a tap installed by ADRA.
In regions where rainfall is seasonal and sporadic, ADRA has shown families how to make the most of the water available to grow their food. By installing rainwater tanks, ADRA has enabled families to access water throughout much of the year. ADRA has also demonstrated simple technologies for irrigation that not only extend growing seasons but also conserve water. For example, families in Rwanda now bury unglazed clay pots in their gardens. They fill the pots with water and cover them with a lid. The lid helps prevent evaporation while the water slowly leaches out of the clay pots, irrigating their gardens. As another example, families in Kenya now conserve their wastewater from cooking and reuse it in their kitchen gardens. Water means food and self-reliance.
In Rwanda, Gaudance teaches her daughters how to hand wash at their very own handwashing station, called a tippy-tap.
Water’s importance goes beyond drinking and growing crops. It is closely linked to education, particularly for girls. In communities where girls are expected to fetch the family’s water, this sole task can take up much of the day. This bars girls from attending school and the chance of a better life available through education. ADRA has addressed this barrier in various ways, including installing water pumps in central locations. This reduces the amount of time required to fulfill this important task and enables girls to attend school. Water means education and opportunities.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the necessity of water. We need water to keep ourselves healthy and safe from viruses and harmful bacteria. With the ability to wash hands and keep homes clean, families are more protected from contracting illnesses. ADRA supports families in their efforts to protect themselves. For example, in regions where access to water is difficult, ADRA has taught families how to construct simple handwashing stations from readily available materials. A few good-sized sticks, a plastic jug, some string, and some soap come together to create a convenient way for families to consistently wash their hands and keep themselves safe. Water means protection.
A woman in Rwanda refills the clay pot in her garden.
All these waterworks are made possible by the generosity of our supporters. To mark this World Water Day, we at ADRA want to recognize each of you who enable us to continue empowering others to live healthier and happier lives.