“Humanitarian Projects in Africa Bearing Fruit,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 111–12
The money donated by Church members who participated in two special fasts in 1985 is still working to relieve hunger and suffering in Africa.
Church welfare officials visited Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Kenya in late May to check progress on many of the Church’s initiatives. They found that though the development of relief programs takes time, the benefits are apparent and often extend much further than the initial investment, says Keith McMullin, managing director of Welfare Services for the Church.
In Kenya, thirty-five miles of piping and other materials paid for by the Church were used in constructing the Ngorika water project. Eventually, the project will carry water to about eleven hundred families. More than four hundred families have already joined the small utility cooperative organized by water users.
Asked how the water project had helped his family, one man replied, “Our children aren’t so tired anymore. They don’t fall asleep during the day.” Before the project (which includes pipes, holding tanks, and cattle “dips”) was constructed, the children had to carry all the families’ water from as much as five miles away.
Dairy cattle in the area are now producing more milk since they no longer have to travel so far to find water. The government has approved a one-million-shilling loan (equivalent to approximately $37,000 in U.S. money) to develop the area’s dairy industry.
What is remarkable, Brother McMullin says, is that the project has “inspired and motivated members of the community to solve other problems.” After seeing the success of the water project, the community is making plans to bring in electricity, construct better roads, and build a school.
In southeastern Nigeria, some of the Church’s humanitarian funds were allocated to the private nonprofit development organization Africare in 1987 to help in carrying out a water and agriculture project. Two deep wells have been drilled within the Aba Nigeria Stake; they serve five hundred to six hundred LDS and non-LDS families. A third well is planned.
A small Church welfare farm in the area has been used to introduce a more productive strain of a staple food, cassava, and farmers have benefited from the improved variety. The results are easily seen because the original participants have freely shared their cassava stock with others, and patches of the improved strain stand taller than the older variety, Brother McMullin says.
Also in Nigeria, catchment cisterns have been built next to several meetinghouses. These store rainwater underground and serve as a source of clean drinking water during the dry season for the people in surrounding villages.
In Zimbabwe, a grant enabled local residents to build two small water reservoirs. The people were able to provide most of the labor and leadership, Brother McMullin says. A grain mill paid for by the Church means that people no longer have to walk ten to fifteen kilometers to have their grain ground into flour. The profit from the mill is being used to operate a primary school.
The first lady of Zimbabwe, Sally Mugabe, met with Church officials and expressed appreciation for the truckloads of clothing the Church is providing to the Child Survival and Development Foundation, which she chairs. The clothing was donated by Church members through Deseret Industries.
The Church also donated funds to the Rotary Foundation’s PolioPlus program to immunize children against polio.
The money has been used in Kenya and the Ivory Coast to pay for the vaccine, to buy refrigerators to keep the vaccines fresh, and to help fund a public awareness program so that more people will be vaccinated. Officials in these two nations say that reported cases of polio have dropped to almost zero.