NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Dec. 1, 2012) From safe drinking water and healthy sanitation to agriculture, water is essential for life. Six to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases, according to the United Nations. Furthermore, 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.
Every year since 1993, the international community celebrates World Water Day on March 22, which focuses attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
The Theme for World Water Day 2013 (coordinated by UNESCO in collaboration with UNECE and UNDESA on behalf of UN-Water) is ‘Water, water everywhere, only if we share.’
“Water holds the key to sustainable development,” says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an address highlighting World Water Day 2013. “We must work together to protect and carefully manage this fragile, finite resource.”
In honor and celebration of World Water Day 2013, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs around the globe that provide safe water and much-needed agricultural training to those most in need.
In Bolivia, families now have access to safe drinking water in their homes through community water distribution projects. In the town of “19 de Agosto” in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the new distribution brings water directly to 106 families who previously had to carry potable water from the town well to their own homes. In addition, the distribution system greatly improves the sanitary conditions of the drinking water. And, in the town of “Las Parabas,” 50 families now have water distribution directly into their homes.
In another project, water helps power electricity that brings the power of hope to the people of Kami, a village high in the Bolivian Andes. Through Salesian Missions, an abandoned hydro-electrical power station has been restarted to provide the only source of electricity to the local school, hospital, sawmill and new businesses. Refurbished turbines can be fully used even with a small supply of water in the dry season. Excess power can be sold to the Bolivian Electricity Board to defray costs. Now the community has access to technology in its school, better basic medical care, job opportunities and a brighter future for all.
The Salesians are helping East Timor recover and rebuild in the wake a devastating civil war that claimed countless lives, decimated entire communities, and resulted in living conditions that are among the worst in the world. One-third of the population faces food shortages and many of the schools have been destroyed.
At the Salesian Missions agricultural school, students learn theoretical agricultural methods and work on the college farm. Agricultural skills are also being taught in parish centers and schools. In Baucau, young people have set up a cooperative to plant rice on land owned by parishioners. When they started, they had no tools or machinery, just their bare hands. With the assistance from the Salesian Missions and AusAid, they were able to purchase hand plows, threshing and milling machines. A portion of the crop belongs to the workers, a portion goes to the landowners as rent and the rest is sold for profit.
Child survival depends on safe drinking water. In India, progress has been made toward making access to safe drinking water more readily available with 84.5 percent of rural and 95 percent of urban populations having sustainable access to safe drinking water, according to the World Bank.
At the Don Bosco Center for Learning in Kura, course work focuses on job training in developing technologies concerning water – ranging from plumbing and sanitation to developing efficient methods for utilization and analyzing existing systems for efficient transportation of water. The courses are designed for youth who have previously left school in order to help them enter the job market.
In Kenya, agricultural training has made a significant difference at the Kakuma Refugee Camp. There, food security is enhanced by the demonstration farm which enables training in agriculture skills. It also produces fresh fruit and vegetables which improve the amount of food available to the refugees and inhabitants of the camp.
Agricultural skills are also an important component at the Bosco Boys Kuwinda facility. There, students receive training with livestock including poultry, cows and pigs, as well as in the vegetable gardens. Eggs and meat are sold from the farm to help support the project.