Access to Clean Water
Access to clean water is vitally important and remains a challenge in many areas of the world. For many of us, we simply turn on the faucet and fresh drinking water pours out. But many people around the world have no access to clean water. They are left thirsty.
How many people lack access to clean water? The World Health Organization estimates that 785 million people lack a basic drinking water source.1 That is defined as an improved water source within 30-minute round trip walk. In some areas of the world, especially in Asia and Africa, the walk for clean water takes hours. Even then, the water is often contaminated, causing the risk of waterborne illness.
Researchers estimate that by 2025 half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. Even though 71% of the earth is covered with water, only 3% of that water is fresh water. Of that 3%, over 68% is in the form of snow, ice caps and glaciers and 30% is in the ground.2 How ironic that there are countries surrounded by water yet unable to find any to drink.
What impact does a lack of clean water have on a community?
Women and children often carry the burden of gathering water.
This takes away two important factors of poverty alleviation:
1) Women are unable to spend that time earning income and caring for their children.
2) Children are unable to use that time attending school and learning skills necessary to break the cycle of poverty.
The health of a community suffers.
Clean water is critical to our health and well-being. Without it, we suffer dehydration and other medical issues. When individuals drink unclean and contaminated water, it can lead to severe waterborne illnesses. For example, the World Health Organization reports that 502,000 people die yearly from diarrhea,3 which is frequently caused by unsafe drinking water. We know that diarrhea is easily treatable, but the people who are suffering often either don’t know how or don’t have the resources to treat it, which often results in death.
Lack of water also impacts sanitation and hygiene.
Communities without clean drinking water often also lack clean water for handwashing, which is necessary to curb the spread of diseases. These communities often also lack the dignity that comes from having toilets.
How is GFA World helping communities that lack access to clean water?
GFA – a clean water Christian organization – has been serving in Asia for over 40 years, bringing clean water, humanitarian aid, educational opportunities, community development, and God’s love to the people of Asia. Over the last 20 years, GFA has drilled a cumulative total of more than 30,000 wells, through our clean water projects, including completing around 4,000 wells in recent years throughout Asia. We recently expanded our ministry into Africa, and we’re excited to see how our wells will help the poorest people in that region.
GFA wells, called Jesus Wells, have had a life-changing impact on communities. The wells, drilled by local companies, are purposefully drilled deep enough to provide water in the driest of seasons. Heavy duty handpumps are installed—generally the India Mark II model. Each well is maintained by a local pastor and their local congregation. This provides a tangible way for a church to serve its community and share the love of Jesus. The wells are accessible to everyone, no matter their social class, ethnicity or religion. These wells cost $1400 on average to install and can serve 300 or more people with safe water every day.
BioSand Water Filters
Additionally, GFA provides BioSand water filters to households or a group of neighbors, through another clean water initiative. These filters make water 98% pure and can last up to 20 years. The filter is a concrete box filled with layers of gravel, coarse sand and fine sand to remove impurities, pathogens and suspended solids from water, making it safe for drinking and cooking. BioSand water filters run without electricity, so they are a great option for many around the world who lack power resources. For only $30, GFA can manufacture and distribute a BioSand water filter for a family in Asia or Africa.
Through the generosity of donors, in 2019, over 12,243 BioSand water filters were given to families in Asia through GFA and our partners. The ministry provides these families and communities healthy water and brings them hope for their future.
These two options bring water independence and freedom from walking miles for fresh water, allowing more time for education and employment. Clean water brings hope for the future.
1 “Drinking-water. Key facts.” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water, June 14, 2019.
2 Drinking-water. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water. February 7, 2018. Accessed December 26, 2018.