“I could see the need myself,” said Bishop Moses Deng of Wau Diocese, South Sudan. “Not only from the human beings, but even from the bees: the bees were scrambling for the little water that was given to us to drink.”
“Many people are sick,” Bishop Deng continued, “and the causes of those sicknesses are mostly waterborne.”
In view of the pressing need for clean water around the world–especially in developing nations like South Sudan–ARDF will be putting the focus on providing clean drinking water and sanitation to the world’s most vulnerable communities this summer.
Contaminated water kills children and destroys communities, yet this suffering is easily preventable by drilling wells and teaching sanitation.
Still, there is a long way to go: according to UNICEF, “36% per cent of the world’s population – 2.5 billion people – lack improved sanitation facilities, and 768 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources. Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kills and sickens thousands of children every day, and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities for thousands more” (read more from UNICEF).
There, contaminated water not only kills children, but also leads to inequality for women and girls who spend time fetching water instead of going to school, and creates competition over resources which fuels deadly ethnic violence, threatening the stability of the fledgling state.
Bishop Deng believes that providing greater access to clean water will improve the lives of many women and even lead to peace-building in areas dominated by tribal conflict. “I am hoping that we will use this project to bring communities together to talk about health, water and sanitation,” he says with intensity, “but then we will also talk about peace.”
However, in order to ease rather than worsen tensions between tribal groups, the well-drilling must be done strategically: “If you see the way we have selected the villages and parishes where we will put the water, we are very mindful of making communities feel that they are being treated equally and that resources are being distributed fairly.”
ARDF is currently funding three well drilling and sanitation projects in South Sudan that will provide safe water to more than 48,000 people, and communicate the message God’s grace toward in Christ to many thousands more. We are also researching a new project that will provide safe water in drought-prone regions of Northern Kenya.