WORLD WATER DAY: Salesian Missions highlights “Clean Water Initiative” projects that ensure youth have access to clean, safe water
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins UN-Water, the organization that coordinates the United Nations’ work on water and sanitation, and the international community in celebrating World Water Day. Every year since 1993, the international community has celebrated World Water Day on March 22. The day focuses attention on the importance of safe, clean water while advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The day also serves as a reminder of the global population who suffers from water-related issues and sets calls to action to prepare for management of water in the future.
Each year, UN-Water sets a theme for World Water Day corresponding to a current or future challenge. This year’s theme “Nature for Water” explores how people can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century. UN-Water notes that environmental damage, together with climate change, is driving the water-related crises seen around the world today.
UN-Water estimates that worldwide 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services, and by 2050, the world’s population will have grown by an estimated 2 billion people, pushing global water demand up to 30 percent higher than today. UN-Water also indicates that around 1.9 billion people live in potentially severely water-scarce areas. By 2050, this could increase to around 3 billion people.
“Having access to clean water is essential for the health and safety of those we serve around the globe,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Improving water and sanitation facilities brings a sense of dignity for the children we serve and ensures that teachers and students are working and learning in an environment that promotes proper hygiene and has safe drinking water. This reduces the number of waterborne illnesses that can affect those in our schools, keeping them away from important study time.”
UN-Water highlights that nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of the globe’s water challenges. It suggests doing more with “green” infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.
In response to this crisis, Salesian Missions has continued its “Clean Water Initiative,” making building wells and supplying fresh, clean water a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work.
Salesian-run Don Bosco Kep, located in Kep Province, Cambodia, has completed a water system and sanitation project on the school grounds. The project entailed drilling a new well, and installing a water filter, new irrigation and a water treatment plant, in addition to new sanitation facilities. The water project is providing appropriate sanitation and fresh drinking water for 350 students and teachers on campus, as well as providing clean water for farming, fishing ponds and cooking. The addition of the new water treatment facilities is also preventing ecological contamination.
Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” is bringing water to the Marathwadi village in India. The project was implemented by local Salesian missionaries through Bosco Gramin Vikas Kendra (BGVK). Successive years of hardly any rainfall in the villages of Marathwadi and Kolhewadi, in the districts of Ahmednagar and Beed, had made the life of villagers miserable. Agricultural productivity was going down, cattle were not producing enough milk, the groundwater table was declining, people were migrating and children were suffering.
To improve water security and water management, BGVK focused on facilitating groundwater recharge and retention to improve soil moisture, de-silting the canal-bed, increasing green cover and laying a pipeline to the village. BGVK also completed an excavation of two dams for de-silting and recharging village wells, as well as constructing two drinking water tanks of 10,000-liter capacity each. The local villagers provided the technical support and manual labor, while Salesian Missions provided the financial support.
This project has benefited 1,200 people in two villages and saved at least 1,000 hours each day collectively for people out searching for water. It has also made the life of young girls and women in the villages more comfortable as they traditionally have the primary responsibility of finding water for their families.
Salesian missionaries at the Don Bosco Oratory in the village of Kabgayi, located south of the city of Gitarama in Muhanga district in the southern province of Rwanda, just completed a water well project in cooperation with Logic Engineering. The project included drilling for a new water well and installing an electric pump. A new water tank was also built to store large amounts of water. The new well provides water for youth who participate in the oratory’s activities, as well as the surrounding community that often faces water shortages.
The project was funded by Salesian Missions and has drastically improved the sanitation and hygiene of youth in the Salesian program. Students and their families are able to have access to clean drinking water and water for washing their hands and taking a shower. The water is also available for cleaning the program’s sports facilities and equipment. New bathroom facilities provide better sanitation as well.
The government of Zambia asked Salesian missionaries to start an agricultural school in Lufubu with the goal of establishing an alternative to fishing. The local community was over-fishing the lakes and needed a new source of food security that would combat hunger while preserving the environment. The school includes a working farm where the students gain hands-on experience with animal husbandry and the cultivation of vegetables and maize on a personal plot of land designated for each student. The farm includes 400 hectares of land, five of which are currently cleared. There is a river near to the farm that provides a reliable source of water year-round.
While the Salesian campus, which includes the agricultural school, farm and youth center, does have a bore hole that provides fresh water, it was limited. A stream about 200 meters away brings in fresh, clean water for washing, watering and even drinking, but unfortunately much of the water did not reach the Salesian storage tank because of the many leaks. Salesian Missions provided the funding for Salesian missionaries in Lufubu to replace the 200 meters of PVC piping to deliver the fresh water from the stream to the storage tank positively affecting the school and its students.