What do you do when you’re thirsty? Across most of Australia, we turn on the tap and enjoy instant access to clean, drinkable water. It’s easy right? Well, it’s also easy to forget how important water is.
Unfortunately, unclean water, poor sanitation and unsafe hygiene practices have claimed more lives than anything else over the past century. Today, 783 million people do not have access to clean water and 2.5 billion people don’t have proper sanitation facilities. This can have dire consequences for millions of people living in the world’s most vulnerable communities. Polluted water and poor sanitation practices spread diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and malaria.
One of the countries I will walk through is Mozambique, which is home to over 27 million people and constantly faces challenges to development due to water and sanitation issues, as well as war, floods, droughts and earthquakes. Just under half the population live without access to clean, safe water and 22 million people don’t have access to adequate sanitation.
What can we do?
This Program works with the most vulnerable groups in remote and impoverished communities across seven districts to provide access to clean, drinkable water and sanitation, as well as basic training in safe hygiene practices and water management.
There are three key elements to this program:
Community leaders are invited to attend training so that they can then educate and empower the rest of the community with their knowledge and skills. With a focus on capacity building this training enables community members to take responsibility and ownership of the water projects and allow them to sustain positive development outcomes even after Caritas’ support has ended.
Building latrines (toilets)
Support is provided so that communities can build latrines in order to decrease the risk of diseases resulting from poor sanitation and to encourage individuals to abandon the practice of open defecation and reduce the number of families that use the nearby bushes for their personal hygiene. Materials (cement, timber, corrugated iron sheets) are provided to create safe, private spaces for the participating families. Community members are encouraged to participate by providing labour and time to build the latrines.
Access to clean water
Construction of boreholes and water pumps reduce the distance community members need to travel to access water from 4km to only 100 meters which allows families to have more time to do other productive activities such as attend school and participate in income generating projects. The quantity and quality of water contributes to improving family’s hygiene and reducing the risk of diseases that result from using unsafe or contaminated water. Community members identified access to safe, clean water as a priority in the design of the project. Again, participation is encouraged at all stages of the project and the strengths and assets of the community are identified and utilised to ensure the project benefits for the participants are sustained long after the project is completed.
All these initiatives offer a holistic approach to water and sanitation and provide self-sustaining benefits to the communities.
“In the past we had many difficulties; women had to travel long distances to fetch water…this integrated program has contributed to improving living conditions in my community” Program Participant 2013
So as part of the Walk to a Better World campaign we aim to raise at least $15,000 to help Caritas Australia reach more community members through this project and provide:
- 145 community members with training on water treatment, maintenance and management of water sources and equipment
- 40 families with the materials to build and access private, hygienic latrines
- 1000 community members with access to safe, clean water40 families with the materials to build and access private, hygienic latrines.
Projects such as this increases the self-esteem and confidence of people living in these communities, and provides a sustainable, community owed solution. With your support Caritas Australia can continue to support these communities and provide further programs to help the poorest of the poor break barriers and transform their lives.
Please note: Donations over $2 are tax deductible through Caritas Australia