A Quest for Access to Clean Water
More than 70 percent of earth’s surface is covered in water, yet 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water that’s safe to drink.1 Many people in developing countries rely on surface water for their everyday needs, but those sources can fluctuate with seasonal rainfalls. It’s estimated “4 billion people experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year.”2
Water is essential to life. Approximately 60 percent of the human body is composed of water, which plays many important roles in the body’s function.3 Though a person may survive without food for a month or longer, they can’t survive three days without the vital element of water.4 Water is also needed for cooking, cleaning, and raising crops and livestock. In areas that rely on agriculture as the main source of income, water is essential to providing one’s very livelihood.
Because water is indispensable to sustaining life, the United Nations considers access to safe drinking water a basic human right.5 Yet many are still in search of that right.
Many people in areas like Asia and Africa, mostly women and girls, trek hours a day just to collect water for the family’s drinking, cleaning and cooking needs. This task is physically draining and often keeps women from attending to things like income-generation or child-rearing; it also keeps girls from attending school.
But this water they struggle to obtain may be contaminated. Many water sources in developing regions contain fecal matter, arsenic or other pollutants.6 Unclean water may cause diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.7 In developing countries, approximately 80 percent of illnesses can be attributed to unclean water and poor sanitation.8 Each year, approximately 95,000 people die from cholera and 129,000 from typhoid.9
When water is such a precious commodity, sanitation and hygiene frequently suffer as well. It’s estimated 3 billion people don’t have adequate handwashing facilities at home, with the greatest percentages being in sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia.10 One billion people, lacking proper sanitation facilities, practice open defecation, which in turn contributes to water contamination and leaves women vulnerable to assault.11
The risk for waterborne diseases is particularly high among children. Every year, diarrhea alone prevents 446,000 children from reaching the age of 5,12 while 1.6 million child deaths may be attributed to the combination of unsafe water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene.13
Many of these deaths are preventable, if only people have proper sanitation and access to clean water. Clean water initiatives help protect families from sickness and helps children grow healthy and strong, if only they have access to it.
Thankfully, clean water Christian organizations such as GFA World are helping people in need with this quest for access to clean water. GFA World provides this aid in two forms: Jesus Wells and BioSand water filters.
Jesus Wells offer entire communities fresh, clean water.
When installing them, workers dig deep below the surface to ensure water will be available year-round, even in drought. Each well has a heavy-duty hand-pump and is maintained by a local church so it will continue providing water for years to come. Freely offered to all, this access to clean water demonstrates Christ’s love and care as it protects people from disease.
Sabar often fell sick because his only water source was unsafe, contaminated. Then GFA workers installed a Jesus Well in his village and his health was restored.14
Likewise, Ragnar’s family of six struggled to obtain the water crucial to their survival. They repeatedly walked over half a mile away to collect water that only made them sick. His children battled physical ailments and struggled in school. A doctor recommended filtered water for his jaundiced son, but Ragnar had no access to such things, nor could he afford it.
Then Ragnar encountered a GFA worker, who learned of the need and requested a Jesus Well be installed in Ragnar’s village. Now the entire community has easy access to clean, free drinking water. As a result, their health has greatly improved, as have their lives.15
BioSand water filters also protect families from water-borne disease.
When water is accessible but contaminated, BioSand water filters enable a family and neighbors to transform the available water into safe drinking water. Simply and sturdily built, these efficient structures remove 98 percent of biological impurities and can last up to 20 years.
Keeva had battled stomach pains for a long time. Their village had a well, but the water was dirty and often caused severe stomachaches, kidney problems and other health issues. Then she heard of a local GFA clean water project distributing water filters to people in the community, meeting their practical needs in the name of Christ. After receiving a BioSand water filter, Keeva now enjoys water free of impurities and no longer suffers from stomachaches.16
In this way, GFA World is providing living water to people in dire need, protecting their bodies and refreshing their souls. It’s just one way the organization is serving “the least of these,” as it has since 1979.
1 “Water Supply & Sanitation.” World Water Council. https://www.worldwatercouncil.org/en/water-supply-sanitation. Accessed August 11, 2021.
2 “The United Nations World Water Development Report 2019: Leaving No One Behind.” United Nations. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000367306/PDF/367306eng.pdf.multi. 2019.
3 Weymiller, Brigitte. “Water, the key to survival.” Gundersen Health System. https://www.gundersenhealth.org/health-wellness/eat/water-the-key-to-survival/. Accessed August 11, 2021.
4 Sargen, Molly. “Biological Roles of Water: Why is water necessary for life?” Harvard University. https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/uncategorized/2019/biological-roles-of-water-why-is-water-necessary-for-life/. September 26, 2019.
5 “The United Nations World Water Development Report 2019: Leaving No One Behind.” United Nations. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000367306/PDF/367306eng.pdf.multi. 2019.
6 Luby, Stephen. “Water Quality in South Asia.” Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2740663/ . June 2008.
7 “Drinking-water.” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water. June 14, 2019.
8 “Global WASH Fast Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/wash_statistics.html. Accessed August 10, 2021.
9 “Global WASH Fast Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/wash_statistics.html. Accessed August 10, 2021.
10 “Water Inequality.” National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/article/water-inequality/. Accessed August 12, 2021.
11 “10 Ways Access to Clean Water Can Improve the World.” Ohio University. https://onlinemasters.ohio.edu/blog/access-to-clean-water/. March 2, 2021.
12 “Global WASH Fast Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/wash_statistics.html. Accessed August 10, 2021.
13 “Water Supply & Sanitation.” World Water Council. https://www.worldwatercouncil.org/en/water-supply-sanitation. Accessed August 11, 2021.
14 “Man’s Health Restored After Drinking Water from Jesus Well.” GFA World. https://gospelforasia-reports.org/2020/07/mans-health-restored-drinking-water-jesus-well/. July 23, 2020.
15 “A Family’s Fight Against Contaminated Water” GFA World. https://www.gfa.org/news/articles/a-familys-fight-against-contaminated-water-wfr21-03/. February 2021.
16 “Filtering Out Sickness.” GFA World. https://gospelforasia-reports.org/2020/03/filtering-out-sickness/. March 9, 2020.