Clean Water and Sanitation Saves Lives
Water is a crucial element of attaining and improving food security.
Like other basic services, safe water is essential for the survival and well-being of humankind and its access is a prerequisite for the realization of many human rights, including those relating to people’s survival, education and standard of living. Waterborne diseases are responsible for one in five deaths of children under five in Africa, while many waterborne illnesses, such as diarrhea, are increasing due to the effects of climate change.
Using a partnership approach, Vita works with local East African communities to repair broken water pumps in their villages. This has a dramatic impact on health and livelihoods as families, animals, and farmers, can, for the first time, have a reliable water source to depend on.
On top of this, it is estimated that globally women and children can spend 140 million hours daily fetching water. Thus, by restoring and maintaining clean water sources in rural villages, Vita’s water projects help to reduce drudgery and the incidences of poor health for women and children.
Incidentally, providing a clean water source has a very positive impact on the environment, too, as clean water doesn’t need to be boiled. This saves many trees from being cut down for fuel and thus prevents hundreds of tonnes of carbon emissions from polluting the atmosphere this year. It is from these carbon-savings, that Vita creates its carbon offsets, which you can use to offset your carbon footprint. If you’d like to find out more about how Vita is marrying impactful development with climate action, click here.
Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)
Vita’s work on Community-Led Total Sanitation focuses on community education around issues of health and sanitation and the importance of latrine usage. It ensures that it is communities that drive the desired change, and Vita acts only as a support and facilitator of community needs.
Communities work with Vita and CLTS experts to become Open Defecation Free (ODF), providing labour and materials to construct private and communal latrines. Vita’s initial leadership work with CLTS has resulted in it being adopted by neighbouring communities, with no direct Vita inputs.
This is a great endorsement of the success of this initiative. Vita introduced the CLTS concept into Ethiopia and it is now recognised and adopted by communities and development agencies across the country. CLTS and Empowerment.pdf
From community leaders taking action to women rediscovering their time and health again, read just how life-changing access to clean water really is.
“My daughter and I walk for very long to fetch water. This made my daughter very tired when she went to school. Today we just walk for five minutes to the new water pump” says Amarech as she explains the new change in her life.
The town of Balwa can be found about an hour’s drive north of Asmara, Eritrea’s capital. With a population of over 2,200 people, it sits high on a plateau. These hills were once lush, green and heavily forested but now the hills at Balwa lie burnt and bare in the harsh sun and hundreds of families eke out an existence by rearing goats and cows on the scarce grazing. To add to the hardship, Balwa has not had a source of clean water since 1998 when the local well was damaged in a flood.
The village of Dorze is high in the Rift Mountains just at the point where they cast their shadow over the twin lakes of Chamo and Abaya, in the region of Gamo Gofa. However, the Dorze people have been without a water pump for over eight years. The hand pump worked perfectly for many years until a part broke. With no money for or access to the pump, and no direct line of responsibility or ownership, the local people were forced to go back to the traditional way of hauling dirty water from distant water sources.
“Before this pump was fixed I would have to walk two hours to fetch water,” she says. “I would carry a jerry can of about 25 litres every morning and afternoon. This was my daily routine. No one to help me because all of my children are boys. I don’t have a girl. As it is known, it is women’s duty to collect water in our community.”