The continual difficulties and atrocities in Africa have been overshadowed in the news by coverage of the Trump-Russia scandal and the Syrian Crisis. In addition to political corruption and small proxy wars, purified drinking water has always been a dilemma in certain African nations. The crisis is multi-faceted with ever-changing geopolitical factors creating difficulties, including organized terrorist organizations and the difficulties of setting up the infrastructure required for gathering water, purifying the water, delivering the water and lastly, gathering waste for proper disposal.
Sometimes, with modern luxuries in American everyday life like endlessly-flowing faucets, it is easy to forget about the issues others face. Many developing countries, and towns within, do not have this luxury of turning a knob. Instead, reliable drinking water is a rare and coveted resource.
Greg Nowlin, All Saints’ Upper School Math and Science teacher, made remarks as to the situations facing many communities in Africa.
“If you control the water supply you control the people in proximity who rely on it for survival,” Nowlin stated.
Terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab have been inducing environmental terror in eastern Africa for years, even cutting off water supplies to citizens by occupying cities with the only access to the Juba River, a main source for fresh water in Somalia. Moreover, those with access to natural freshwater sources, such as rivers, are still prone to waterborne diseases.
“One in five deaths in Africa are related to waterborne illnesses,” said Nowlin. These deaths are preventable with basic equipment.
Kailey White, a WaterAid Engagement Associate, learned about the crisis in college. Inspired by WaterAid’s goal of providing clean water to the world, White recently joined the international nonprofit staff.
Access to clean water affects much more than just health. Without pipelines for water, “Women and children are responsible for gathering and carrying water back home,” White said. “We are also fighting for gender equality in developing countries, so that women can go to work and children can attend school.” On average, women and children in Africa walk 3.7 miles each day to collect water for their communities. Not only does this prevent them from working or attending school, the heavy loads can cause severe spinal and neck issues over time.
With the work of nonprofits such as WaterAid, individuals can support the change that grants clean water access to the 783 million people in the sub-Saharan region without, and help provide access to proper plumbing and toilets to the 2.5 billion people without. Besides raising and donating money to non-profits like WaterAid, White says students can make a big impact by “advocating to local elected officials and spreading the message to peers and family.”
Fort Worth’s local congresswoman is Kay Granger.