The rehabilitation of three boreholes, installed pumps, and reconstructed reservoirs and water canals has allowed clean water to flow to Nyadire United Methodist Mission in Zimbabwe directly benefiting some 4,000 people.
Credit: Nyadire United Methodist Mission
Water and Sanitation Myths and Truths
By Michelle Scott Okabayashi*
Access to clean water is essential to life, yet 884 million people around the world don't have it. UMCOR's water and sanitation programs are working with vulnerable communities to give them access to clean water, improve sanitation, and increase education about their water supply and how to keep it flowing.
This summer as VBS children across the United States raised funds to support water programs and throughout the year as concerned churches and individuals work to end this disparity, UMCOR receives calls asking about how best to give a cup of clean water to thirsty people. What follows are some common misconceptions when initiating water and sanitation programs.
Myth #1: Digging wells and providing water is a simple, straightforward project.
"While it's wonderful to provide a well in a community that needs clean water, it's not as simple as it sounds," says Landon Taylor manager of church relations for UMCOR. "It takes a lot to locate a water source and dig the well. It takes a lot more to make sure it's useful to the community over the long run."
Not only does there need to be an accessible water source, its location, use, care, environmental impact, and maintenance by the community also needs to be considered. The ideal place for the well may be on private property, the municipal government may have regulations regarding how the well is used, the well may only supply a fraction of the community's needs, as well as other variables.
"When I talk to churches that are interested in digging a well, I try to encourage them to think about partnering with others for the project," says Taylor. "Providing communities with clean water that they can use for many years to come is complex and requires a long-term and integrated approach, and it's very hard to do alone."
Myth #2: A well is all you need.
It takes more than a well to truly create access and improve the health of communities. By working together with other partners and other churches you can make an impact that goes far above what a solitary well could ever do.
Taylor points to the ongoing project as Nyadire, Zimbabwe, as an example. The Nyadire Connection, an organization made up of a group of United Methodist churches in the Pittsburgh area, have been working with UMCOR, The United Methodist Church of Finland, The United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, the Nyadire Water Committee, and local lay leaders for three years to get the rehabilitation project off the ground.
The Nyadire Connection was formed after a 2006 mission trip to the area brought the lack of water in this community to light. Water was once provided to this United Methodist Mission, which includes Nyadire Hospital, through municipal sources. However, as humanitarian problems in the country escalated in the last decade the water source became unreliable as the system fell into disrepair and vandalized. This 200-bed hospital frequently went four to five days a week without any water at all.
Realizing that what needed to happen to rehabilitate Nyadire's water supply was more than what this group of churches could supply, they enlisted the help of others. As a result of this collaborative effort that rehabilitated three boreholes, installed pumps, and reconstructed reservoirs and water canals has allowed clean water to once again flow to Nyadire, directly benefiting some 4,000 people.
You can help UMCOR bring clean water and good health to vulnerable communities by giving to Water and Sanitation, UMCOR Advance #3020600 .
*Michelle Scott Okabayashi is a writer and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.