“Water Project Provides More than Just Water,” Ensign, Jan. 2009, 78
As water sprayed from a new well drilled into the Kenyan countryside, villagers from the Makueni region shouted for joy. Some danced. Some cried. It meant no more 30-kilometer walks to fetch water in lieu of drinking from contaminated rivers.
The Church’s clean water initiative is providing remote communities like Makueni with hand-pump wells to reduce water-borne diseases. But by allowing villagers to spend less time fetching water, the wells also enable families to spend more time together and children to attend school more frequently.
In July 2008 in the neighboring district of Mwingi, the Church, with help from the local residents, built 30 wells that serve 56,000 people. Around the same time, 20 wells in Masinga, Kenya, were also completed, serving 32,000 people. Seven other projects in the country are in process.
As with other major humanitarian initiatives, the clean water projects incorporate principles of self-reliance and sustainability. A community water committee becomes responsible for maintaining the system. The Church supplies the committee with the necessary tools and trains them on hygiene so they can use the water safely and properly.
While local contractors take care of major construction elements like drilling, community members are expected to help, digging trenches, moving pipe, and mixing cement, among other things.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than 400 people are digging a 30-kilometer trench and laying pipe to create a gravity-fed water system. The four-year project will benefit an estimated 160,000 people, making it the largest clean water project the Church has funded.
With an estimated 23 projects in progress for 2008, the clean water initiative continues to touch hundreds of thousands of lives. Since 2002 the projects have provided more than four million people in 50 countries with access to clean water.