This month, World Vision Water announced a major accomplishment and something of a miracle: this year, we’ve provided clean drinking water to every man, woman, and child in 2,416 villages in Africa!
Read about our ambitious plan for universal coverage with clean water!
World Vision has been investing with our partners in providing clean water to villages in Africa for decades because we know that clean water changes everything for people who suffer from water-related diseases and spend much of their day hauling water for long distances. So what is new about this announcement?
Providing clean drinking water in 2,416 villages represents a paradigm shift for World Vision, and for the development community, because it’s a radical change in the way we do our work. For decades, we worked to provide water access and improved sanitation and hygiene fairly across the areas in which we worked.
An analogy that may help explain our past approach is the way you spread butter on your toast. We spread the butter, or in this case the water, evenly throughout communities. We were essentially working to gradually increase the water access for those lacking clean water everywhere we have large-scale water programs.
That in itself has been a massive effort and allowed us to reach one new person with clean water every 30 seconds. This unprecedented scale and our belief that every child deserves clean water have driven us to go even further.
Now, instead of spreading water access evenly throughout communities, we’re focused on getting the job done in village after village and then moving on to new villages. Our goal is simple: Everyone should have access to clean water that lasts. This approach allows for much greater efficiency and, in fact, has helped us drive the cost of sustainable water access and improved sanitation and hygiene down to $50 per person!
It’s a new way of thinking that is needed to help solve the global water crisis within our lifetimes. The development community is aligning with the fact that this is possible, and it’s called “universal coverage.” World Vision is committed to doing our share in reaching this goal of universal coverage to solve the global water crisis.
One of the lead countries for this work is Zambia, where I recently visited more than 20 villages in difficult to reach rural areas, and where everyone now has clean water. Several of these villages had just gained access to clean water, and I joined in the celebration of water erupting from the wells. Amazingly, in Zambia alone this year, we’ve provided water to everyone in more than 400 villages!
A memorable part of my trip to Zambia is the time I spent with Victoria Kayumba, a mother of three children whose village had recently gained water access through the provision of two new boreholes. Victoria told me that her previous water source was a pond and I thought it would be best to see it.
We scrambled down a steep embankment for more than a mile and she described the hardship and danger of hauling 40 pounds of water up this hill several times a day. She told me that it’s not uncommon for the women and children to fall and hurt themselves while navigating this hill, particularly in the rainy season when it’s slippery.
When we reach the pond, a small herd of cattle enters the water with Victoria, and the cattle do what comes natural and relieve themselves. The water is disgusting and it’s hard to believe that people in this community survived drinking this contaminated water. But now things have changed!
Victoria sings and laughs with her friend on the easy walk to the new borehole that is very close to her home. She’s thrilled that not only her family, but that everyone in the village, now has clean water from the boreholes that World Vision provided. And Victoria tells me that they know they need to maintain the water sources and are paying a small fee so that there’s money available when repairs are needed.
Today is a great day for this community and, with our new focus on getting the job done, it’s a great day for thousands of villages in Africa. Our World Vision staff will celebrate in the communities in which we live and work, and tomorrow the work begins again.
We won’t stop until the job is done and everyone has clean water that lasts!
We're not stopping after Zambia! Help us reach even more people all around the world with universal coverage for clean water. Donate to our clean water efforts!
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