“Clean Water Is Major Aim of Church Humanitarian Program,” Liahona, Dec. 2007, N6–N7
In the remote mountain village of Navunimono, Fiji, drinking water used to come directly from the river that passes through the community. Cattle farms upstream, rainstorms, and other environmental factors make the river water unsafe for drinking, necessitating the recent installation of three water storage tanks.
The storage tanks, installed under the auspices of the Church’s Humanitarian Services, are among more than 50 similar installations made by the Church throughout Fiji.
Tomujani Boginivalu, leader of the Navunimono village, noted, “Our water supply is now clear and easily obtained for the whole community.”
“In order for the villagers to claim that ownership,” explained Leo Wright, humanitarian services missionary for the Church in Fiji, “the locals take responsibility for the water tank maintenance. They build, at their own expense and labor, the block and concrete bases for the tanks. In addition, a local individual is appointed as the ongoing caretaker of the tanks. In this way the villagers have an investment in the project and become more aware of its usefulness.”
Local resident Joseva Vitinavulagi observed the changes following the installation. “The clay base of the reservoir servicing the village is dirty because there’s no water purification plant. With the new tanks installed, I’ve already noticed the change in the skin of the children and adults in the village. I am proud to say that schoolchildren now go to school with plastic bottles of clean water.”
Access to clean water is one of the Church’s major humanitarian initiatives. In 2006 clean water projects were completed in 34 different countries.
Concern for clean water sources, according to the World Health Organization, is significant worldwide. More than a billion people lack access to a healthy water source; many of these individuals suffer from waterborne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, and typhoid. Ninety percent of all infectious diseases in developing countries are caused by unhealthy water supplies.
Depending on local needs and requirements, the Church program provides community water supplies through a variety of methods, including wells, boreholes, storage tanks, and water purification systems.
“It is the aim of our program,” explained Brett Bass, project manager of Humanitarian Services of the Church, “to support local people and organizations as they find sustainable solutions for their water needs. In the case of Fiji, the people have come together to identify a suitable solution and then have put forth the effort to make it happen.”