UNICEF’s Work During COVID-19In June 2021, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released its annual report outlining the work done during the prior year. This year, the report focused on UNICEF’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic. While complete data on how COVID-19 impacted global poverty may never be available, what is available paints a dire picture. Compared to the baseline projection of global poverty prior to the pandemic, 2020 saw 144 million more people in extreme poverty. At least half of this rise “could be permanent.”

Beyond the immediate impact of families falling below the poverty line, the pandemic is also likely to impact growth. Without policy action, the pandemic may “trigger cycles of higher income inequality, lower social mobility among the vulnerable, and lower resilience to future shocks.

Despite the difficulty, UNICEF works hard to counter the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. UNICEF is an organization under the United Nations with the express purpose of protecting children’s rights across the globe. The organization mainly focuses on helping children in some of the toughest places in the world. It supports “child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality education and skill building, HIV prevention and treatment for mothers and babies, and the protection of children and adolescents from violence and exploitation.”

The Impact of COVID-19

The pandemic touched nearly every part of the globe in 2020. Its impact worsened global progress toward reaching the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. Progress was already off track due to a range of humanitarian crises, climate change and inequalities across the world. This led to 142 million additional children living in “monetarily poor households” in 2020. The pandemic led to about 15% of all children spending the majority of the year under stay-at-home orders. An estimated 94% of students were affected at some point by school closures. These disruptions caused the most harm to children living in poverty. At least one-third of students didn’t have access to remote learning, and food disruptions led to 44 million children facing hunger.

While absolute mortality appeared to be less of a danger for children, the effects of the virus had a negative impact on almost every key measure of progress. Disruptions to health services impacted children across the world. An estimated 80 million children under the age of one “may miss out on life-saving vaccines.” The pandemic and its secondary effects also led to a rise in abuse as disruptions to violence prevention and response services rose.

UNICEF’s Response

Despite these disheartening consequences, UNICEF’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped. It has been working continuously to provide the necessary services to handle COVID-19. It also dedicates resources to responding to non-virus-related situations. This global crisis has highlighted UNICEF’s ability to adapt to new challenges and find new ways to help children living in poverty across the world. One way in which UNICEF’s work during COVID-19 had a large impact was its efforts toward providing necessary supplies and helping with the rollout of vaccines.

Throughout 2020, UNICEF provided “water, sanitation, hygiene services and supplies” for 106 million people. It also provided PPE to 2.6 million health care workers and training to an additional 4 million health care workers. UNICEF also worked with COVAX to make sure that vaccines were procured and distributed equitably across the world. UNICEF’s work to help children across the world extended to efforts not directly related to health care. The organization also used its leadership to reach more than 130 million children through its social protection initiatives and cash transfers.

Future Work

As the world moves forward, necessary work remains to help rebuild much of what the pandemic brought down. To this end, UNICEF’s work during COVID-19 continues. Executive Director Henrietta Fore laid out five goals for UNICEF to work on as nations rebuild and reimagine the systems children across the world rely on:

  1. Provide equal access to vaccines for all.
  2. Revolutionize learning through bridging the digital divide.
  3. Provide proper investment and attention to mental health.
  4. End discrimination.
  5. Address climate change.

The pandemic continues to have a massive impact on children across the globe. Not only did the virus directly affect millions, but it also shone a light on many already existing inequalities. UNICEF’s work during COVID-19 was vital and helped millions throughout the year. In the future, UNICEF will continue to work to improve the lives of children across the world.

– Taryn Steckler-Houle
Photo: Flickr

Water Filters to EthiopiaIn 2012 and 2014, NativeEnergy visited Ethiopia to assess the water situation and determine the viability of water filters. According to NativeEnergy, about 65% of people in the Sidama Zone of Ethiopia are forced to utilize “unclean water sources.” In 2019, about 98.52% of people in Sidama voted for it to be an autonomous, self-governing state. In June 2020, the state became independent. However, the people of the Sidama Zone and other rural areas in Ethiopia face serious issues regarding access to clean water sources. To address this issue, the Desert Rose social enterprise is providing water filters to Ethiopia.

Water Studies in Ethiopia

According to Water.org, only around 42% of Ethiopians have access to clean and safe water sources. In rural areas of Ethiopia, access to clean water is even more limited. Severe climate conditions and political issues largely contribute to Ethiopia’s water shortages. Many rural Ethiopians resort to collecting water from water sources that are often contaminated and only serve to spread disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) outlines the consequences of drinking unclean water. Contaminated water sources lead to the spread of diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Agriculture is central to the lives of almost 95% of people in Sidama. Since agriculture plays a significant role, water is needed for a thriving agricultural industry that supports food security and livelihoods in Sidama.

Desert Rose

Desert Rose is an Ethiopian-based social enterprise that has focused on community development through engineering consulting in rural Ethiopia since 2008. Thomas Berger, a swiss anthropologist, and British engineer, Andrew Smith, established Desert Rose as a force for social good. Desert Rose has come up with a water filter solution to ensure Ethiopian people in rural areas like Sidama have access to clean water.

The water filter called Minch is able to mechanically remove 99.9% of E. coli bacteria. There is no need for chemicals and the filter is much more effective than conventional biosand water filters. The Ethiopian government tested the filter. It is simple to use, “lasting up to two years in rural areas and up to five years in the towns.” The low-cost filter targets impoverished communities in Ethiopia. The water filter is produced entirely in Ethiopia, enabling the company to save on costs and keep the water filter affordable to all. The filter also has “an internal 15-liter water reservoir” to protect water from contamination during storage.

The Minch water filter provides a form of water purification for Ethiopian households who cannot afford to boil water due to the high cost of firewood. After three years in development, by 2019, Desert Rose produced 1,000 water filters. Oxfam bought 50% of these filters for use in its humanitarian efforts. With funding and support, the Minch water filter has the potential to reach large-scale production so that all Ethiopians can have access to clean water.

Water for All

Since water access and poverty are linked, better water access means reduced poverty. According to the United Nations, water is essential for socio-economic development and plays a significant role in decreasing “the global burden of disease and improving the health, welfare and productivity of populations.” With companies and organizations working to improve water access in Ethiopia, poverty in Ethiopia is reduced.

– Jacob Richard Bergeron
Photo: Flickr

BRAC Brings Water to PeopleIn the year 1972, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed founded BRAC in Bangladesh. The organization started as a “small relief effort,” eventually becoming a leading global nonprofit. The key mission of the organization is to help people living in poverty around the world. Whether this means tackling illiteracy, health impacts or social injustices, the organization has several programs aimed at reducing the effects of poverty. These goals are reached by implementing proven plans to tackle poverty. BRAC strongly believes in empowering people and communities with the skills and resources to break cycles of poverty and transform their own lives. In 2017, 785 million people around the world did not have access to simple water services. To address this issue, BRAC brings water to people in need through its programs.

Positive Impacts on WASH

BRAC focuses on the issues of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) because the organization understands that these factors contribute to the growth and development of societies. These three necessities are often lacking in impoverished countries. The efforts of BRAC have allowed a total of 2.66 million people to now have access to safe drinking water. By establishing appropriate water technologies for area-specific geohydrological needs, BRAC brings water to people in need. More than 6,000 secondary schools around the world now have access to hygiene facilities and proper hygiene education. Additionally, BRAC has made hygienic and safe latrines available for more than 44 million people around the world.

BRAC and Hydro Industries Partnership

In 2019, BRAC and Hydro Industries entered into a partnership. Past water access solutions have often not considered the fact that the groundwater in Bangladesh is contaminated with arsenic, making it unsafe for people to drink. Hydro Industries provides technological solutions to address such problems. BRAC’s history of proven and effective plans will strengthen this effort.

Hydro Industries asserts that “Passing an electric current through contaminated water” separates and filters contaminants “so that the water emerging from the tap meets the highest possible standards” as the World Health Organisation lays out. The first phase of the collaborative effort between BRAC and Hydro Industries aimed to bring water access to 25,000 people in Bangladesh. The first phase also informs future phases and helps to broaden the scale and impact of efforts.

Hydro Industries’ systems will be extremely helpful to the people in Bangladesh. The systems will provide Bangladeshi people with 40,000 liters of purified water every day. Nick Virr, program director of BRAC United Kingdom, tells BusinessLive that Hydro’s “extensive experience, innovation and high-quality solutions” combined with BRAC’s knowledge of issues and needs “can deliver sustainable improvements in people’s lives at the scale needed.”

Reducing Global Poverty

BRAC and Hydro Industries have already achieved success in their respective areas of work. Their partnership will allow BRAC and Hydro Industries to complement each other and work toward achieving the goal of clean water for all. Since water and poverty are linked, addressing global water access essentially means addressing global poverty.

– Jacob. E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Increase Access to clean waterAccess to clean water is a basic human right, but as of 2017, 884 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and more than two billion people do not have access to fundamental sanitation facilities. These issues have become more pressing as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many into poverty and increased the world’s need for adequate sanitation to prevent the spread of th virus. The sixth Sustainable Development Goal is to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” by 2030. Organizations are working together in a greater effort to increase access to clean water.

7 Innovations for Water Access

  1. Majik Water. Founded by Beth Koigi, Anastasia Kaschenko and Clare Sewell, Majik Water is a Kenyan company that engineers solar-powered filters capable of harvesting drinking water from the air. Koigi was the victim of water scarcity while at university and sought to create a device that would reduce water scarcity in Kenya and beyond. The device has the potential to provide water to the 1.8 billion people globally who may be without reliable access to water by 2025.
  2. Gravity Water. A majority of the people in the world who do not have access to clean drinking water live in tropical and subtropical areas where fresh water is plentiful. Gravity Water wanted to create a system that would allow people in these areas to take advantage of the water they have access to but are unable to drink because of pollution and contamination. “Through harvesting rainwater and storing it above ground, Gravity Water systems provide pressure for filtration without the dependency of electricity, which is commonly lacking in rural areas.”
  3. Ashok Gadgil and Vikas Garud. While UV water filtration is a proven way to purify water, these systems are expensive due to the materials needed to build them. Ashok Gadgil and Vikas Garud have developed a modified version of these devices. UV lamps placed above water tanks filter the water and then use gravity to separate the drinkable water from residue inside. The device is smaller than traditional underwater UV devices and is able to disinfect 1,000 liters of water an hour.
  4. Guihua Yu (University of Texas). Guihua Yu and his team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin created a device that can be used in disaster situations and areas without access to clean water. The device uses water-absorbent hydrogels that release water when heated and work in both humid and dry climates. The water comes from the air, and when the hydrogels are exposed to sunlight, the water is released. The device also runs on solar energy, making it affordable and sustainable.
  5. Innovative Water Technologies (IWT). Jack E. Barker founded Innovative Water Technologies (IWT) to develop global water treatment facilities to be used in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts. These solar and wind-powered water filtration systems can process 5,000-250,000 gallons of water a day. IWT has four different products, all of which bring clean water to those in need,
  6. Dar Si Hmad. Dar Si Hmad is a female-run nonprofit organization based in Morocco. Its water project makes use of fog collectors, also known as the “cloud fishing” technique. A fine mesh gathers droplets of water in areas with thick fog such as Southwest Morocco. Once enough water is gathered, the water falls into a basin and is filtered using solar-powered filters. The water is then piped to 140 nearby households. The fog-catching system is able to provide 6,000 liters of water daily.
  7. The Drinkable Book. WATERisLIFE and Dr. Teri Dankovich developed the Drinkable Book to provide easy water filtration options to those in need. One page from the perforated book can filter 100 liters of water. One book can secure a person’s drinking water needs for up to four years. The pages are made up of cellulose and silver nanoparticles that can filter out “99.99% of the bacteria found in cholera, E. coli and typhoid.”

Access to Clean Water

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need for universal water access, showing the broader impacts of lacking water access during times of crisis. Since poverty and water access are linked, innovations that increase access to clean water contribute to reducing global poverty.

– Harriet Sinclair
Photo: Flickr

Majik WaterData from 2017 indicates that 884 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water and more than two billion people (25% of the world population) lack access to adequate sanitation. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic makes access to water and sanitation even more urgent in order to curb the spread of the virus. Inaccessibility of water is a major contributing factor to global poverty. In developing countries especially, people have to travel long distances to access water, a burden often falling on women. In Kenya, only 58% of people have access to clean drinking water and only 30% have access to basic sanitation. Majik Water provides an innovative solution to ensure access to clean drinking water in Kenya.

What is Majik Water?

Majik Water was founded by Beth Koigi, a Kenyan entrepreneur who was a victim of water scarcity while at university. After this experience, she sought to create a device that would reduce water scarcity in Kenya and beyond. The Majik Water team consists of three inspiring females: Koigi, Anastasia Kaschenko and Clare Sewell. A complex issue such as water access requires a range of methods to solve. While for many, the solution to a lack of clean drinking water is to develop and install water filters, Kenya is prone to periods of drought, meaning there may be no reliable source of water for months on end. Thus, typical water filters are ineffective as there is often no water to filter.

Majik Water seeks to solve this issue by producing filters that are capable of harvesting drinking water from the air. The air contains six times more water than all the rivers of the world combined. Koigi realized that by condensing the water, she could ensure that even people living in the most drought-prone areas could have access to clean drinking water. The Majik Water devices are made with Kenyans and their specific needs in mind, taking advantage of Kenya’s climate and high levels of humidity in many areas. However, the device also works in areas with as little as 35% humidity, making it a more versatile resource. The solar technology involved makes the system more cost-effective.

How Majik Water Systems Work

The devices are deceptively simple, using a sponge-like material that attracts water molecules to gather water in the air.  When heated, the spongy material releases the water vapor, which is then condensed to form water. The device is reusable, making it both sustainable and affordable. Water drawn from the air is often cleaner and more sustainable than groundwater, which is finite and often contaminated with minerals such as arsenic, fluoride and lead. These minerals can cause serious health problems if the water is not filtered properly.

The Potential of Majik Water

While the device is still in the testing and development phases, it has already gained the attention and support of many. The Majik Water team won the EDF Pulse Awards Africa prize. Even in its earliest stages, Majik Water has already proven effective in increasing access to clean drinking water in Kenya. At the Ark Children’s Home in Thika, Kenya, Majik Water’s filters are able to provide 50 liters of drinking water a day, straight from the atmosphere.

The goal of the project is to increase water access in Kenya and stop the potentially devastating effects of anticipated increased water shortages in the next decade. Koigi hopes to be able to produce clean water for just one cent per liter, which may be achieved by reducing the cost of the solar technology that the devices rely on. Majik Water has the potential to improve health outcomes and poverty rates in many parts of the country by ensuring reliable water access for all.

Harriet Sinclair
Photo: Flickr

Groundwater Wells in Venezuela
Amidst the current problematic economic situation and levels of poverty in Venezuela, urban and rural sectors are going deep to find water due to poor access to safe water. Geographical studies or dowsing are the most common methods of creating local groundwater wells in Venezuela.

Poverty in Venezuela

In terms of the poverty statistics of Venezuela, between the years 2008 and 2013, the country ceased the process of poverty reduction and the government stopped providing poverty statistics. Since then, a group of national universities called ENCOVI has implemented independent studies regarding poverty in Venezuela.

According to ENCOVI, 67% of the Venezuelan population is living in extreme poverty while 94% are in poverty. No other country in the region holds numbers as high as these.

Water Access in Venezuela

A 2019 to 2020 report stated that 77% of people in Venezuela enjoyed aqueduct access. Meanwhile, 12% had access to water via water truck, 3% garnered water from public taps and 9% retrieved water from wells.

Despite having a well-established aqueduct system nationwide, many communities do not have a guaranteed and continuous source of clean water. In fact, only one out of four houses have a continuous supply of water, while the majority (59%) can only obtain water on certain days of the week. Meanwhile, the remaining 15% is only able to garner water once a month. On top of this deficient service, the quality of the water is often poor. Reports have said that the water often has a foul smell, yellow color and sediment.

Solutions

Urban and rural communities have decided to solve this problem themselves. This has led to urban areas hiring private companies to implement geological studies and find underground water reservoirs. Rural communities can do the same if they have the economic resources, but if they do not, they opt for dowsing.

The total cost to explore and drill a water well hovers between $15,000 to $25,000. This sum is an orbital number due to Venezuela’s current economic situation. However, with great sacrifice, urban communities can collect this sum in many different ways.

In addition to this effort, local governments are also attempting to find a solution to this problem. In fact, some have taken on the full cost of building the water wells.

The Process of Building Local Groundwater Wells in Venezuela

A scientific method to detect water underground involves the use of a piece of equipment called an Earth Resistivity Meter. It injects electricity into the subsoil through some stainless-steel electrodes that those doing the testing nail into the soil to determine the receptivity of the layers of the ground and subsoil as well as groundwater covers. Various methods use electricity to explore the soil and subsoil to find a water reservoir.

While this works well for some areas, rural areas frequently have challenges due to a lack of funds. Despite this situation, some rural communities have opted for the dowsing method. With the help of two y-shaped branches of a pigeon pea plant, these communities can detect water underground. Normally, dowsing experts survey the area near ravines, and after several experiments, the branches will tilt down indicating the water reservoir.

Other communities go simpler and go along with their intuition by perforating the ground until they find water. However, the problem with this method is that these wells are not well made and the quality of water is dubious if not dangerous.

Efforts of UNICEF to Provide Safe Water

In 2019, UNICEF began working with the Venezuelan government to supply safe water to Venezuelans. Some methods that UNICEF and the Venezuelan government will take include repairing and improving water systems, providing supply water trucks and chlorinating water in many impoverished communities.

From a panoramic perspective, building local groundwater wells in Venezuela is necessary to supply local communities. No shortcut exists regarding solving this problem. To tackle this issue, Venezuela requires economic investments from both the private and public sectors to bring the vital resource of water to all of its citizens.

– Carlos Eduardo Velarde Vásquez
Photo: Flickr

Improving Water Access In BrazilThe South American country of Brazil has an abundant water supply. In fact, Brazil’s water supply makes up 20% of the entire water supply of the world. Brazil’s energy sector is significantly dependant on water as the country uses hydropower for 62% of its energy. Irrigation activities to preserve Brazil’s important agriculture industry uses 72% of Brazil’s water supply. Despite an abundance of water, many people in Brazil find it challenging to gain access to reliable water and sanitation. While the wealthier part of Brazil’s population has better access to water and sanitation, the more impoverished part of the population struggles with obtaining these resources. Due to the dire circumstances that disadvantaged people in Brazil find themselves in, organizations are dedicating efforts to improving water access in Brazil.

Water.org Assists

According to Water.org, three million Brazilians lack access to safe water. Lack of access to clean water and sanitation impacts the socioeconomic development of Brazil and also affects people’s health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, safe water access is vital for hygienic measures to prevent transmission of the virus.

Water.org is an organization dedicated to ensuring that people worldwide have access to safe water and sanitation resources. According to Water.org, financing can often be an obstacle to water access. In order to resolve this, Water.org implemented the WaterCredit Initiative loan program. By providing small loans, financial barriers are overcome and people have access to water and sanitation. Thanks to more than 15 years of WaterCredit’s efforts, more than 36 million people in 13 countries have access to safe water and sanitation facilities.

Lower-income communities in Brazil do not receive the same amount of financing as the wealthy. This makes the population even more vulnerable. Using the WaterCredit Initiative, Water.org has been able to provide safe water and sanitation for 107,000 Brazilians. With this success, Water.org plans on continually improving water access in Brazil.

Providing Water in Sao Paulo

The state of Sao Paulo in Brazil is heavily urbanized and susceptible to water shortages. To rectify this problem, the World Bank and partners devised the Sao Paulo Water Recovery Project. The project targeted communities around the five key watersheds of Sao Paulo and aimed to reduce the amount of water wasted and improve upon existing water systems. Furthermore, the project worked closely with water providers in Sao Paulo and was successful in many ways. Certainly, the project’s efforts helped to benefit almost 98,000 people by the project’s close in May 2017. The project was able to save 47 million cubic meters of water annually. The total amount of recovered water amounts to a water supply adequate for a city of 800,000 people, which reveals how successful recovery efforts were.

The efforts of organizations provide long-term solutions to improve living conditions for impoverished people in Brazil. By improving water access in Brazil, the right to water access is upheld and people are able to live better quality lives.

Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Unsplash

Makes Seawater Safe
A finalist in the 2021 Lexus Design Award, Henry Glogau created a skylight device that has the potential to solve water shortages worldwide. Glogau has utilized natural resources like sunlight and seawater. With these resources, he created an indoor desalination system that makes seawater safe to drink. The system has already provided drinking water and indoor lighting to homes in Antofagasta, Chile.

How the Skylight Makes Seawater Safe to Drink

Someone has to hand-pump the salty seawater into the skylight. From there, the solar panel absorbs sunlight, which heats the water to the point of evaporation. The evaporation turns into condensation. The condensation drips down to the bottom half of the skylight. There, a spout controls the release of the desalinated drinking water. The skylight can produce up to 440 milliliters of water a day. It takes the salinity of the seawater from 36,000 ppm, past the minimum drinkability at 500 ppm to a miraculous 40 ppm. The skylight leaves behind salty brine in the water. The device, however, lets nothing go to waste. Salt batteries generate a diffused light from the leftover brine.

Free Lighting

Not only does the device provide drinking water, but it also provides free natural lighting to many lacking it. Power lines generate life for many families in settlement homes in Chile. The boarded windows of the homes block out natural light, unfortunately. The boarded windows increase privacy and security. The natural light from the skylight, along with the salt battery-powered light strip for the nighttime, is a great, cheap alternative that allows families to not have to live in the dark. The skylight creates soothing light patterns on the floors and walls during the evaporation to condensation processes.

Implementing the Skylight in Antofagasta

Antofagasta, a city in Chile, utilizes the skylight. Antofagasta is a very dry, coastal region where there is a limited flow of surface water. A water sustainability study in 2016 found Antofagasta to have the most severe water scarcity index of five main Chilean regions. This region possessed a value of 24.4.  This value excludes the ecological flow requirements. The value rises to 51.6 with the inclusion of the flow requirements. The mean annual runoff for this region is 930 liters per second. Demand for this region is 22,704 liters per second.

In the Antofagasta area, there are approximately 110,000 families without access to clean water. The skylight innovation makes seawater safe, providing clean water to many families. Many people in Chile live in compartimentos. Chile categorizes compartimentos as eight or more houses lacking legal property and having access to one basic service. For many people, the service they lack is water. The privatization of resources such as water makes clean water difficult to afford. This is why the work Glogau has done is so important for these communities. To increase the impact of this system, the people of Antofagasta are participating in local workshops on desalination that uses renewable resources. Hopefully, more communities around the world suffering from lack of access to clean drinking water will utilize this system.

– Samantha Fazio
Photo: Flickr

Impact on global poverty
Act For Peace is an Australian humanitarian organization. It provides aid to areas around the world that experienced the impact of global poverty and conflict. Working as the international aid agency for Australia’s National Council of Churches, Act For Peace is also a member of the ACT Alliance, a global combination of churches that supports humanitarian efforts in over 130 countries.

 

The Organization

Act For Peace participates in on-the-ground humanitarian efforts such as providing food, shelter, healthcare and education to communities in need. The organization also has a legislative agenda that focuses on global poverty reduction and safety efforts for vulnerable communities.

The United Nations entered the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) into force which is a treaty Act For Peace advocated for. ATT is the first global treaty to propose regulations on international arms and ammunition trading. The treaty has the goal of reducing the number of weapons that some use in human rights violations. It will regulate and track the selling and trading of weapons internationally. It also intends to decrease the number of legal weapons on the black market. Over 140 countries signed the treaty since 2014. Only 110 countries received approval or underwent official ratification.

Resources

Act For Change and the Near East Council of Churches Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR) offer multiple life-saving resources for the conflict-ridden community. The clinics provide free medicine, dental care, pre-and post-natal care, nutrition and psychosocial support for those the conflict affected. Act For Peace and the DSPR also offer vocational training programs for young people living in the Gaza Strip. This includes secretarial work, carpentry, English language classes and dressmaking. These programs prepare young people for employment, while also providing them opportunities to leave conflict areas and live lives void of danger and poverty.

Clean Water and Emergency Preparedness in Tonga

In an ACT Alliance partnership, Act For Peace and the Tonga National Council of Churches have worked to improve access to clean drinking water by building rainwater tanks in vulnerable areas of the country. The main effort in Tonga is educating communities on emergency preparedness as the country is highly susceptible to natural disasters. Humanitarian efforts include training on early-warning systems, stockpiling food and emergency action plans. The efforts focus on creating leadership roles within the villages. They also equip the communities with the knowledge to oversee their own preparedness and response plans.

Conservation Farming in Zimbabwe

Act For Peace’s ACT partner, Christian Care has provided new farming techniques to over 1,200 farmers living in drought-prone areas of Zimbabwe. The conservation farming methods focus on providing farmers with the skill and confidence to increase food security and extend the health of their crops through seasons of drought. Act For Peace is currently providing direct aid to over 13 countries and is supporting humanitarian efforts all over the globe through partnerships with the ACT Alliance, contributing towards making a great impact on global poverty. In more recent efforts, Act For Peace has several emergency appeals relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the developing world.

Act For Peace also has an annual fundraising campaign called, “The Christmas Bowl.”  It is an ode to the founding of the organization. Reverend Frank Byatt believed it was his Christian duty to share the joy of Christmas with those less fortunate around the world, thus making an impact on global poverty. His legacy has worked as the framework for the organization for the last 72 years.

Kendall Couture
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Uganda
Water is a necessity for all living beings, and access to safe water is a basic human right. Despite the world experiencing exponential growth in all areas with advances in science and technology, 40% of people experience water scarcity. The country of Uganda is no exception; 8 million Ugandans lack access to safe water. This lack of clean water affects the health of the Ugandan people, their productivity and their economy. Here is what to know about the water crisis in Uganda.

The Current State

One in nine people worldwide has no safe alternative to contaminated water sources. The stress of economic growth over the last two decades in Uganda has put an enormous strain on the land and its resources. Approximately 19% of Ugandans only have access to streams, ponds and unprotected hand-dug wells as sources of drinking water.

Human waste, soil sediments, fertilizers and mud all run into drinking water sources due to the widespread absence of proper toilets and showers. Additionally, the lack of adequate filtration systems and the loss of vegetation, which acts as a natural filtration system, lead to various health problems. According to BioMed Central, 22% of deaths of Ugandan children under the age of 5 are a result of diarrhea.

The water crisis in Uganda also results in 32% of Ugandans having to travel more than 30 minutes to access safe drinking water. The excess time that people spend on water provision hinders their ability to work, maintain the household and take care of children.

Initiatives for a Better Future

Many initiatives are underway to address the water crisis in Uganda and the problems it has created. For example, in 2013, Water.org launched its WaterCredit solution, which has led to increased water and sanitation loans. This initiative has reached more than 276,000 people and the organization and its partners have disbursed approximately $13 million in loans, helping to create long-term solutions to the water crisis in Uganda.

Another program addressing the water crisis is the Uganda Women’s Water Initiative, which transforms contaminated water into clean and drinkable water for school children. More than 300 women in Gomba, Uganda, received training to build rainwater harvesting tanks and Biosand filters. The simple filter consists of layers of rock, sand and gravel that remove 99% of bacteria from water. Funded by Aveda and GreenGrants, this initiative conducts programs about hygiene and sanitation that support these women. Thanks to this program, school children are safer from typhoid and diarrhea which would keep them sick and out of school. Remarkably, Gomba saw a reduction of school absences by approximately two-thirds thanks to filters and harvesting tanks.

An additional project tackling the water crisis in Uganda is the result of a partnership between Generosity.org and the International Lifeline Fund (ILF). The project has three initiatives that include clean water projects, education on sanitation and hygiene practices and strengthening local health services in Northern Uganda. The goal is to improve conditions for approximately 10,000 people.

Looking Forward

Better water and sanitation systems are critical for a healthy society and a stronger economy. In many countries, organizations such as UNICEF have made efforts to combat water issues. This is especially true in the fellow country of Liberia, where the organization strived to developed water, sanitation, and hygiene systems (WASH), with 65% of such machinations functionally today. The Ugandan government now aims to have clean water and improved sanitation for everyone by 2030. Uganda plans to reach this goal by investing in quality water infrastructures, which involves restoring and maintaining clean water sources as well as promoting hygiene and investing in sanitation facilities. Organizations like Water.org and ILF are helping realize this ambitious goal.

Tara Hudson
Photo: Flickr