World Water Day 2018

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World Water Day 2018

There are 7.4 billion people in the world and each and every one deserves access to safe water for a healthy future. However, 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water. In fact, by 2050, the world’s population will have grown by an estimated 2 billion people and global water demand could be up to 30% higher than today, according to UN-Water. On March 22nd, World Water Day, we focus on the importance of water and the huge impact that it makes on communities around the world. Not only is access to clean water and sanitation is a critical part of sustainable development, it also reduces instances of illness and saves households time and money. The result is healthier and stronger communities and brighter futures.

Sadly, developing communities are disadvantaged and struggle to access proper water and sanitation facilities.

The lack of access to clean water means that children in particular often fall sick. As they are unable to afford treatment or travel to the local hospital, parents have no choice but to helplessly watch their children fall ill. They have no choice but to drink untreated water which leads to this continuous cycle of illness.

In addition, lack of access also means that girls often are delegated the task of walking long distances, sometimes multiple times a day to fetch water. This reduces their ability to attend school and study, depriving them of the opportunity of an education.

However, with the help of Habitat supporters we’re making a real impact by helping ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

In Bangladesh we are establishing community committees to oversee the construction and maintenance of toilets and wells, while also training schools and communities on hygiene practices. This includes helping communities like Farida’s access clean water and a healthier future.

Farida and five neighbouring families live in a remote community in Northern Bangladesh. While they shared a tube well, there were many challenges that came with this. As the well was just outside the community, collecting water in the rainy season was a treacherous experience. Farida would have to cross submerged roads and flooded fields, multiple times each day, hauling heavy jerry cans of water with her.

In the dry season, conditions were not much better. The high elevation of their village meant the well was not deep enough to reach any water during the hot season, when the ground water dried up.

“It was tedious work for us to collect water from long distances at other people’s wells,” said Farida. “Sometimes, after such a long walk, some households didn’t allow us to collect water from their well either.”

To combat this challenge and to reduce the journey, Farida and other families would often resort to collecting water from a nearby pond. However, this water was untreated and lead to the spread of water-borne diseases that affect children the hardest.

Installing a well with a deep shaft would resolve this problem. However, the high costs associated with this were significantly beyond the means of this poor community who live hand to mouth. Instead families would have to walk long distances to collect water from the closest and safest source.

Although the community had attempted to receive a grant to build a well from the government and other organisations, they were sadly unsuccessful.

“We knew safe water is essential to live a healthy life,” said Farida, “but we did not have any source of safe water of our own. We felt deprived and dishonored but we did not have any alternative choice.”

However, thanks to the support of Australian Aid through the Civil Society Water and Sanitation Fund (CS WASH), and Habitat for Humanity donors, this community now has a choice, and access to a brighter, healthier future that comes with it.

With the support of Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh, a local committee has been formed in the community to improve access to clean water and knowledge of hygiene and sanitation practices. This includes the installation of a new tube within the community, which will provide access to clean, safe water all year round.

“This well has given us great relief from the challenges we previously experienced,” said Farida. “Beside drinking water, now we can take a bath in clean water and maintain our privacy. We are grateful to Habitat for Humanity for this well.”

Having their own tube well means communities do not need to resort to drinking unsafe water or plan their entire lives around how they will get water. Access to safe and clean water does not just mean improved health. Access to this essential and precious resource, means dignity and pride.

With your support, this project has seen the completion of a further 100 tube wells and 600 toilets in Northern Bangladesh. Over 1,000 students will also receive training of hygiene practices, and 300 labourers on well and toilet construction.

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