Bread and Water for Africa® Clean Water Projects: A Look Back at 2023, A Look Ahead into 2024

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Bread and Water for Africa® Clean Water Projects: A Look Back at 2023, A Look Ahead into 2024

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Since 1997, Bread and Water for Africa® has been working to provide people living in remote rural villages throughout sub-Saharan Africa with ready access to clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing, and saving them (especially young girls) with the backbreaking drudgery of hauling heavy containers of water for miles from unsafe, unprotected sites and the risk of severe illness or even death.

Over the past 27 years, we have dug new wells and refurbished existing ones which have not functioned for years, protected springs, constructed stream water diversion projects and created reservoirs for large-scale agricultural projects.

Among our very first projects was constructing a pipeline system delivering fresh spring water from high in the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda to rural villages below serving more than 10,000 individuals.

While the exact number of individuals who have benefited through our clean water projects is unknowable, a fair approximation based on the number of projects completed per year and the estimated number of children, parents and elders served in each village conservatively puts the number at more than four million, with tens of thousands more added every year.

In the decades since, we have completed a total of 448 clean water projects in a dozen countries with 54 projects done in the past year alone including the repairing of 24 wells in Ethiopia, the protection of underground spring sources in Uganda, ten new water wells in Malawi, four in Zambia, three in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and one in Tanzania.

At approximately 1,000 beneficiaries per project, that amounts to 448,000 individuals who today have convenient access to all the safe, clean water they need. In addition, girls are no longer wasting their young lives away and damaging their health by walking long distances fetching water for their families instead of being in the school classroom and carrying heavy containers of water on their heads.

And in 2023, after completing clean water projects over the years in countries including Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, we expanded our reach into the DRC (formerly Zaire).

“I learned of Bread and Water for Africa® through a Google search while researching NGOs (non-governmental organizations) working in the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) sector,” wrote Lucien Beele, executive director of Technologies Appropriées pour le Congo, Association Sans But Lucrative (TAC Asbl)in Kinshasa.

In his request for assistance to Bread and Water for Africa® Executive Director Beth Tessema, Lucien explained that he was seeking grant funding to construct a well at the Lac-Tumba Primary School in the community of Bikoro on the edge of Lake Tumba, the oldest school in the territory with 1,500 students.

He was literally pleading for their lives.

“The school has no drinking water easily accessible to students or staff,” he wrote. “The lack of clean drinking water sources forces the students to drink contaminated water from Lake Tumba.

“As a result, not long ago, a cholera epidemic claimed the lives of many of these students.”

Of course, we could not turn our back on Lucien and the students in the face potential illness – even death – caused by a lack of clean water.

But it was the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® from across the country who stepped up and who collectively and generously contributed the $6,000 necessary to fund the lifesaving project.

Fast forward to December, and we were pleased to report that with the grant funding from Bread and Water for Africa® TAC Asbl was able to drill “a well equipped with an India Mark II human-powered water pump for the use of the school and the residents of the surrounding neighborhood.”

In addition, the grant also allowed TAC Asbl to implement an 8-week WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) program in which about two dozen community leaders including the school principal, teachers and members of the school’s parent committee were trained in WASH practices.

All 1,500 students at the school were also instructed on proper sanitation and hygiene practices in their classrooms, and TAC Asbl teams visited groups of families in the surrounding community at a rate of 20 per day, totaling approximately 500 individuals, Lucien told us.

“This project has been a great solution for the school in terms of drinking water supply and will contribute a lot to the health and education of the students at the school who were often victims of waterborne diseases,” says Lucien.

For 2024, our clean water program, which makes up 20 percent – one-fifth – of our budget expenditures, includes the construction of three wells in Zambia with our new partner there, Village Water Zambia, the construction of two wells in Zimbabwe and the implementation of 12 more spring water protection projects in Uganda with our longtime partner, Bega kwa Bega (Shoulder to Shoulder).

In addition, our plans are to continue our partnership with TAC Asbl to construct four more wells in the DRC, the rehabilitation of 16 wells at community centers, health centers and schools in Ethiopia, and the construction of 12 wells in remote villages in Malawi. In total, these 49 projects – serving a conservative estimate of 1,000 villagers each – by the end of this year will be providing clean water to roughly 50,000 individuals, not only saving lives and preventing illness, but also making a tremendous impact on the primarily girls and women who had been wasting many hours each day fetching water for their families from likely contaminated open water sources such as streams and lakes.

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