Why Is Water Important?
Hello, I'm Elisha Ngonomo, the Field Director for Village Water in Zambia, Central Africa.
I want to thanks for the great support from so many people. There are a good many reasons why people need a well. Obviously, drinking water is life itself. Washing themselves and their children, cooking and washing clothes are other essentials.
What else can you do with water?
There are other uses you may not know about: water is essential for brick-making and every woman in Africa wants to live in a brick house - not a grass hut that is impossible to keep clean. Dust blows right through grass huts and the children's eyes constantly weep with the dust causing endless eye complaints, even blindness after years of irritation.
It's nearly always the women who fetch water in Africa and, before our wells are installed, the women walk for miles to distant water points. Sometimes they walk for hours each day - such a waste of their precious time when they could be growing crops in their fields or caring for their children. Another good thing about a communal water point is that it brings the women together. We now install concrete wash stands so they have the opportunity to spend time with each other - that's important. The time saved by having a local well also allows them to engage in crafts, for example, making little wooden stools, for sale by the roadside to generate cash to pay school fees, buy medicines - all the things for which you need cash.
The other great way of generating cash is to grow vegetables to sell in the market. Usually they grow one crop in the rainy season and that's enough to feed the family. However, if you can grow a crop in the dry season (which is 8 months out of 12) then you can sell it. Now you're no longer living on the poverty line and, for example, your bright daughter can study and achieve her ambition to become a school teacher. This is when life becomes richer and fuller - all because your village has a well with enough water for your personal needs and to water your garden and grow vegetables for sale.
More than that, each community has become a "model village" with sanitation that provides each family with a pit latrine (toilet) and many of the amenities that you and I take for granted. The sanitation work is done by the village people themselves with materials, cement and reinforcement, purchased and transported by Village Water. We work in some of the poorest and most remote areas of Africa. Amazingly, one rural health centre has reported an 80% reduction in diarrhoea in children, not through our water wells, although they are essential, but mainly through the handwashing points installed by the villagers at the exit of each toilet.
Few of us have the chance to make such a big impact for the betterment of people. I thank you sincerely for your support in the past and beg you to continue in the future.