water

ChildFund Americas: Sustaining People and the Planet

Reporting by Patricia Toquica, Communications Manager, ChildFund Americas

In the Americas region, children, youth and adults in ChildFund-supported communities are joining hands to help break the cycle of poverty while working toward protecting and preserving a sustainable environment. Check out some of the exciting green projects that are under way from the U.S.A. to Brazil.

Sustainable Ag in the U.S.
child holding vegetablesThe Wyan Toka Win community garden in South Dakota is a ChildFund U.S. program that involves children and youth in promoting sustainable agriculture and the consumption of fresh, natural products. Families in the community are taking children selling vegetablessurplus vegetables and fruits they raise in the garden and selling them at the local farmer’s market to generate additional income.

Innovative Farming, Water Use and Soil Conservation in Mexico
child tending plantIn Mexico’s Totonaca region, 450 families have learned innovative agricultural techniques and are putting the knowledge to work on their own farms. This program is supported by ChildFund México in partnership with the local bank, Compartamos Banco.

piping fresh water into the homeNearly 9,000 people, especially women, in indigenous communities of Hidalgo, Mexico, are benefitting from ChildFund’s training programs to improve water usage, including proper collection and recycling techniques.

children learning about soil conservationIn many areas of Mexico’s Mixteca region, gradual erosion is negatively impacting the land. ChildFund works with children and youth to promote sustainable agriculture that will allow the production of healthy products without deteriorating soil fertility.

Family Gardens and Fruit Trees in Honduras
children studyingIn Honduras, families in the Santa Barbara region work with ChildFund’s local partners to promote community-based agricultural production based on principles of sustainable development.

boy planting treeIn the mountains of Honduras, children in ChildFund’s programs are receiving a hands-on education in environmental awareness by planting fruit trees that will benefit their communities. And as part of ChildFund’s Friendly Schools program, children in some areas of Honduras receive comprehensive environmental education and participate in practical projects such as maintaining school gardens.

Eco-volunteers and ‘Harvesting My Future’ in Guatemala
young environmentalistsAbout 180 teenagers from urban areas of Guatemala are involved in ChildFund environmental protection projects. They participate in training workshops and propose practical solutions for environmental issues affecting their communities.

About 450 young people from 10 communities in Guatemala are benefitting from ChildFund’s “Harvesting my Future” project. Teenagers receive training in ecological production of sesame and maize crops that will provide income and a better future to their families.

Environmental Education and Youth Involvement in Bolivia
children in drama productionFrom early childhood, children in ChildFund Bolivia communities learn about the importance of water, soil and trees, thanks to ecological education programs and activities implemented by ChildFund-trained youth leaders.

girls recycleAbout 200 families at the Lucerito Center in the city of Santa Cruz will benefit from ChildFund’s environmental training program focused on reducing and reusing waste to preserve the environment.

In LaPaz, children participating in ChildFund’s early childhood development programs engage with their mothers in activities to improve their motor skills using natural elements easily found in their communities such as seeds, fruits, grains, clay and water. These activities help kids connect and care for their natural resources from an early age.

Natural Resource Protection in Ecuador
school children learn about ecologyIn the Ecuadorian province of Tungurahua, children enrolled in ChildFund programs are participating in the “Futurahua” (Water Future) project. They are learning about the importance of water sustainability and its role in the production of crops that feed their families.

youth plant treesWith the donation of more than 50,000 native plant species, ChildFund Ecuador is supporting reforestation plans developed by children and their parents in various communities living in poverty in Ecuador.

More than 300 families in various rural areas of Ecuador benefit from ChildFund training programs in sustainable agriculture. Community members are now working jointly to maintain water reservoirs and grow organic products in community gardens and orchards.

Water Conservation in Brazil
Youth monitoring water sourcesIn Brazil’s Jequitinhonha Valley, ChildFund’s Water Watchers Program engages children and youth leaders in environmental education, contributing to the preservation and proper usage of water resources that are so scarce in this area.

planting cropsChildFund’s Water for Life Program in the rural semi-arid areas of Brazil has involved thousands of children and their families in adopting techniques for water conservation and socio-environmental sustainability. Through this program, ChildFund Brazil helps thousands of families in semi-arid areas learn about water collection and conservation to ensure adequate resources for household consumption and crop growth.

Clean Water and Sanitation: A Must for the World’s Children

Reporting by ChildFund The Gambia and ChildFund Indonesia

World Water Day logoAs ChildFund works around the globe to provide for the basic needs of children, a fundamental component of our efforts to reduce poverty and save lives is the provision of clean water and sanitation. To mark World Water Day, we spotlight two projects that are improving water access for children and families.

Safe Drinking Water in The Gambia
In 2011, ChildFund The Gambia, with support from ChildFund Deutschland and the German government, began working with the Ding Ding Bantaba Federation and Eastern Foni Federation to provide fresh water to 12 communities. The ongoing project is providing clean and safe drinking water from protected wells for about 22,400 people, the majority of whom are women and children.

Before this project began, women and young children would walk for more than 3 kilometers (almost 2 miles) to fetch water from open wells that were often polluted. With the construction of new wells, that walk for water is reduced to 1 kilometer, or even a few meters in some cases. By the time the project concludes, more than 30,000 families will have access to clean water.

girl at water faucetAs a result of having reliable sources of fresh water, health and hygiene are improving within the communities. Another outcome is reduced occurrences of diarrhea diseases and malaria infections that hit hard for children under the age of five.

Working with the two community federations, ChildFund is conducting management and finance trainings for the communities’ Water and Village Development Committees. “The idea is to equip local residents with the project management and financial skills necessary to effectively maintain and sustain the water facilities and other development projects,” says Eustace Casselle, ChildFund national director in The Gambia.

Opening Access to Clean Water in Indonesia
Prior to 2007, Cikaret village in West Java, Indonesia, did not have access to clean water. The 1,500 residents collected water from wells, irrigation gutters and rivers. During the rainy season, dengue fever, diarrheal diseases and skin infections were common. To have clean water, families had to buy it.

water pipeline

Water is now piped into the village.

Five years ago, ChildFund Indonesia, working with the local government, teamed with a local partner and community members to build a half-mile pipeline to a nearby mountain source, providing 400 people with access to clean water. The local government then constructed a water tower near the village, growing the number of people served to 1,200.

“The clean water means a lot for the community. Now, there are no more skin infections happening around the community. Besides that, it also lowers our monthly expense,” said Yusuf, 36, a father of three children. “After the water pipes were built and we started to see the benefits, the community started to be closer. We now are aware that by working together, we can put an end to any problems in our community.”

The World Needs More Toilets

pit latrine

A pit latrine in Ethiopia

Americans take their bathrooms for granted, but for 2.6 billion people worldwide, a toilet is a luxury. To raise awareness of global sanitation needs, Nov. 19 is designated World Toilet Day.

“Children often suffer the most because of limited access to clean water and poor sanitation,” said Sarah Bouchie, ChildFund’s vice president for program development. “Poor sanitary conditions lead to more disease and less food, and precious family income must be spent on purchasing water or dealing with the effects of illness.”

A toilet in Vietnam

Responding to water and sanitation issues is a primary component of ChildFund’s work to help children around the world.

Beginning in 2008, ChildFund helped Nam Phong, a village of 3,600 in Vietnam, construct latrines and water supply systems. Community members were also taught to adopt hygienic practices, which helped clean up streams and roads in the community.

In Timor-Leste, where 70 percent of people have no access to sanitary bathrooms, ChildFund built latrines, a community bathroom and provided hygiene training to children and families. In Afghanistan, we are partnering with UNICEF to teach children about sanitation and hand washing. ChildFund Afghanistan has assisted some 6,000 former IDPs (internally displaced people), refugees and vulnerable families lacking quality housing and bathrooms. We’ve provided building materials and a small economic incentive to help families construct a two-room house and latrine.

An initiative to install latrines in elementary schools in Mexico provides students privacy and protection, increasing their likelihood of staying in school. Girls in particular are less likely to attend school if there are no bathrooms.

“Improved sanitation in schools, better access to clean water and knowledge about how to prevent waterborne disease helps ensure the health and development of the world’s children,” Bouchie said.

Celebrate World Toilet Day and help flush out poverty.

One Mother’s Story of Drought

While her husband seeks work, Lopeyok, 32, struggles to care for their seven young children in northern Kenya, where drought conditions have become severe. She relies on ChildFund’s Early Child Care and Development Center (ECCD) for her children’s only meal of the day.

The mother and her children also expend precious energy collecting water at a borehole in neighboring Lokitaung district. The four-hour walk each day is hot and exhausting.

ChildFund is delivering 112 metric tons of cooking oil and a nutritional porridge mix for Kenya’s hard-hit regions, targeting children 5 and younger.

The need is great and predicted to grow as drought severity increases across the Horn of Africa.

To learn more about the drought and ChildFund’s response, join Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO, for a Facebook wall chat at noon (EDT) on Wednesday, Sept. 7. Anne recently returned from Kenya where she visited with children and families who are struggling to survive the worst drought the region has experienced in 60 years.

Children and Youth Seek Solutions for Clean Water

Guest post by Alan Parker

Alan Parker, based in New York City, writes about alternative energy, green business, sustainability and climate change. Follow on Twitter @AGreenParker.

With the focus this week on World Water Day, it’s good to step back and recognize that approximately 1 of every 6 people on the planet has difficulty accessing sanitary water. The problem exists primarily in developing countries, where water is a day’s walk from home, is polluted or is buried deep underground. There are a number of charities that teach people of the importance of clean water and have helped countless villages and towns attain water, yet many people still fail to comprehend how immense this problem really is.

Photo by Jake Lyell

Enter the International Year of Chemistry (IYC), a worldwide event sponsored by some of the leading international chemistry institutions. The centerpiece event of the IYC is a worldwide chemistry experiment called Water: A Chemical Solution. It’s geared toward elementary and high school students and has two main goals. The first is to get students excited about science, especially chemistry. The second is to teach the importance of clean water for all. As Andrew Liveris (head of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), one principal sponsor of the event) claims, the experiment “encourages young people to respect water as a vital resource and how science can help make it cleaner and more available to everyone.”

Through the experiments, students will help to complete the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goal of greatly improving access to safe drinking water before 2015.

The global experiment contains different projects where students will complete water-themed chemistry tests to distill water so it can be consumed. The first tests teach students to measure the acidity and salinity of their local body of water. They can then upload their conclusions to the IYC’s website, and compare their results to those from all over the world. Students will also have the chance to develop filtration systems and solar stills from readily available materials to learn about alternative approaches of sanitizing water.

Experiments are tailored for students of all age groups, so elementary school students perform simpler tests, while those in high school can run more complex and challenging tasks. Further, to ensure as many students participate as possible, the experiments will cost very little, if anything at all. The IYC’s experiment runs through December 2011, so if you think that your child or local school would have fun contributing to the experiment, visit the website.

The IYC’s Global Experiment on water could not have come at a more important time in the resource’s history. According to Global Issues, roughly 1.1 billion people in the developing world lack adequate access to water, more than 660 million people lack access to sanitation and survive on less than $2 a day, and children are absent from school around 443 million days due to water related sickness and disease. Water is unquestionably a human issue, and the global experiment is using chemistry to stimulate young students to find solutions.

Liveris, with ICCA, notes that water scarcity means “the world is searching for sustainable, innovative solutions that can only be realized through the advances of chemistry.” Through the awareness that the IYC is raising, it may well be students who will help develop these solutions and aid in getting clean water to those who need it most.

Innovation Brings Water to a Community in The Gambia

by Tenagne Mekonnen, ChildFund Africa Regional Communications Manager

Water is a big challenge in our region; so I find myself thinking a lot about World Water Day, commemorated each year on March 22. In Africa, people travel long distances and stand in long queues to get water. Sometimes the water runs out before those in line can fill their containers. They return home empty handed. A lot of time is wasted waiting to get water — time that could have been spent doing other things.

In some areas even if there is water, it’s unsafe for drinking or cooking. So I thought of sharing with you my visit to The Gambia, where I had the opportunity to see the water pyramid, operated by the Ding Ding Bantaba Child and Family Support Association, a ChildFund affiliate.

Water pyramid in The Gambia

Water is stored below ground before the pyramid is expanded.

Sibanor village is the capital of the Foni Bintang Karanai District in the Western Division. As the capital, it is also the commerce center for several satellite villages as well as many in the Cassamance region. Sibanor is rapidly increasing in size and now has a population of 4,000.

For years, Sibanor lacked clean and accessible water for human consumption. Most of the community’s wells produce brackish water not fit for drinking or preparing food. Nor is the water ideal for laundry, as it does not readily form lather with soap.

As the population has increased, so has the water problem. Because only three hand pumps were producing good-tasting water, residents of the newest settlements started traveling some distances to nearby villages to obtain water.

Water pyramid blown erect

The water pyramid is fully expanded.

Those living around the ChildFund-supported Early Childhood Development center fetched water from the covered hand pump well in the village. The rest shared the remaining two pumps resulting in long queues. Women lined up around these pumps as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 10 p.m., waiting for the overused wells to refill.

Water storage tanks

Water storage tanks

For years, community leaders tried different options to get clean water but without success. Some families resorted to using unsafe drinking water from locally dug and uncovered wells that had better taste. The main borehole was re-dug in 2001, but, unfortunately, it produced the same poor-quality water. The community endured 20 years with no improvement in the water supply. A radical shift in approach was needed.

In a bid to address the situation, Ding Ding Bantaba Child and Family Support Association, working with ChildFund and the Dutch organisation Aqua Aero Water System BV, succeeded in getting a water project proposal funded by the World Bank.

This grant has built a water pyramid, which consists of a borehole and a rainwater collection system that provides clean and sufficient water (up to 5,000 liters per day) to serve the entire population of Sibanor and surrounding villages.

This innovative water system also provides distilled water for hospital use and for battery refilling. Testing has proven the water to be the cleanest and safest drinking source in the country based on national and international standards.

Water packaging process

Community workers package water into packets.

ChildFund played a role in negotiating the grant project and provided on-site supervision as the water pyramid was constructed. We worked closely with community members to engage them in the project and involve them in carrying out the nontechnical aspects of construction.

Today, ChildFund continues to monitor the viability of the community-operated enterprise and ensure water-quality controls remain in place.

Numerous sponsored children and their families in Sibanor are now benefitting from clean water. It’s a victory to celebrate on World Water Day.

Clean Water for Ugandan Families Living with HIV/AIDS

by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager

Procter & Gamble, developer of the PUR water filtration system, has partnered with ChildFund to provide a year’s worth of PUR water purification sachets to 1,000 households in Uganda’s Luwero district.

The distribution of PUR sachets (365 per household) and water purification sets will provide safe drinking water to families living with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, ChildFund, working through trained community health volunteers, will educate families on the importance of proper hygiene, steps they can take to prevent diarrhea and how to recognize the danger signs of diarrhea that require prompt medical attention.

Approximately 1,000 households (5,000 to 6,000 people) living with HIV/AIDS will now have a reliable source of clean water. The PUR water filtration system, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides a simple means of purifying dirty water in an affordable and convenient way.

Greg Allgood, with Procter & Gamble, recently visited the ChildFund community in Uganda, providing this firsthand blog.

ChildFund Supporters Pool Resources to Change the World

by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager

About a year ago, ChildFund launched Fund a Project to spotlight several pending projects around the world that, when funded, would improve the lives of children and their communities.

The idea was to provide an easy way for donors to contribute a little or a lot toward their favorite project, whether that was helping build playgrounds, grow community gardens or establish a goat herd. Banding together these groups of donors—whose individual members will probably never know each other—have fully funded eight projects to date.

Let’s celebrate their successes:

Ten donors chipped in a collective $2,685 to provide dairy goats to rural Kenyan families. The goats are a sustainable, renewable resource, providing much-needed supplemental nutrition for children.

In Zambia, $41,083, contributed by six people, is providing bed nets and malaria education to significantly reduce the incidence of this deadly disease.

Five supporters gave a total of $2,857 to provide water pumps benefiting 15 families in rural regions of Timor Leste. The pumps will offer better access to a clean-water source.

Twelve donors put up $28,400 to build community health huts in Senegal to help combat malaria and HIV/AIDS.

Thirty-six supporters raised $25,000 for wells and water pumps for the Busia district of Uganda. These fresh water sources will reduce waterborne diseases and make water more accessible to 600 people.

In South Dakota, $5,682, donated by 33 people, will be used to grow six community gardens, improving the nutrition of some 200 children.

Four donors united to provide $25,670 for a community risk-prevention program to help children on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.

To expand the successful Pamoja child-nutrition project in Kenya, nine supporters gave $18,648. The expanded program will supplement the nutritional needs and reduce the levels of malnutrition in preschool children within the Mukuru settlement.

Amazing things are happening for children through ChildFund’s Fund a Project. Won’t you join us?

Children Need Clean Water to Thrive

Nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean water, which causes hardship, disease and death.

The impact on children is particularly tragic. Each year 1.4 million die as a result of diarrhea, according to the World Health Organization. Most cases of diarrhea are attributable to polluted water and poor sanitation.

These deaths are preventable, and ChildFund is taking steps to help improve community water sources,  while also providing education on hygiene and health.

In 2009, ChildFund Zambia pilot tested the “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Improvement Training Package for the Prevention of Diarrheal Disease” developed by USAID. The goal was to get more field staff up to speed on

  • Making water safe to drink: discussing different methods of turning dirty water into safe, drinkable water for different communities.
  • Hand washing: explaining how hands carry germs and encouraging correct hand-washing procedures. (Today, by the way, is Global Handwashing Day.)
  • Handling human waste: explaining how improper disposal leads to contamination and offering suggestions for improving specific community conditions.
  • Facilitating interpersonal communication: identifying the need for better communication between families and community members on water, health and sanitation issues.

“The WASH program is classic evidence-based best practice that we want our projects to adopt and use worldwide,” says David Shanklin, senior health specialist for ChildFund.

When applied in school settings, WASH interventions—including gender-specific sanitation facilities, hygiene education and safe drinking water—support child health, which furthers educational access and attainment.

The way up and out of poverty can begin with a reliable source of clean water, good hygiene and sanitation. It’s a powerful concept and worthy of our ongoing support so that children can thrive.

Water for the World’s Children

Today, as we mark World Water Day, established by the United Nations in 1992, ChildFund is implementing water solutions with long-term positive impact.

In the Andean community of Pastocalle, located in Ecuador’s Cotopaxi Province, a new irrigation water tank is helping families improve their children’s nutrition and health.

In the past, Pastocalle families have typically produced only corn, barley and chocho, a type of gourd. Harvested just once a year, these crops required little water.

Yet, they did not provide adequate nutrition for growing children. Due to the lack of vegetables in their diet, the children of Pastocalle were deficient in vitamins and at high risk for illnesses.

With the support of ChildFund and a local indigenous organization, the community decided to expand its food crops by building a water-collection tank.

Fresh vegetables improve children's diets.

The tank provides irrigation water to small parcels of land farmed by 97 families, allowing them to produce vegetables in every season. A local committee manages the irrigation tank, and families contribute to its maintenance. Irrigation was especially critical last year, due to the dry season.

Families sell surplus vegetables at a local fair.

Already, Pastocalle children are benefitting from a well-balanced diet, rich with home-grown vegetables. Child illnesses are on the decline. The families have embraced organic production methods and a forestation program to help protect water sources and ensure soil recovery through crop rotation.

Although most of the vegetables are grown for the families’ consumption, a reliable water source has led to some bumper crops. The families sell the surplus vegetables at a parish fair for additional income.

Water has made a precious difference to the children of Pastocalle.

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