Access to water is everyone’s right

by Amref Health Africa

In sub-Saharan Africa, there are 340 million people without drinking water or basic sanitation. Access to water is critical to health, nutrition and the economy. Amref’s projects to create wells, toilets, produce solar energy.

World Water Day is celebrated every year on 22 March. But in sub-Saharan Africa, there are 340 million people without water to drink. In the countryside and in arid areas far from big cities live about 313 million people who do not have access to clean drinking water, over 400 million who cannot rely on basic sanitation and over 500 million who do not even have the opportunity to wash hands with soap in their own homes. 

Every day in Africa millions of women and children walk for hours in search of waterways and streams but here the water is contaminated, a carrier of the disease. Because without water, there is no health: here one in ten children dies before the age of five.

Aloyo with her baby.  She is married and she, like all women, has to take care of procurement
Aloyo with her baby. She is married and she too, like all women, has to take care of obtaining water for the family, with routes of even kilometers several times a day.

But without water, there is also no food because 90 per cent of people live on training and agriculture. If there is no irrigation and no rain, the fields dry up, the yields decrease, the animals weaken. To aggravate it all, there is climate change and Africa is the most exposed continent, as the actor, Giobbe Covatta explains in this video.

In Uganda 600,000 families without toilets

Have you seen Aloyo? She is one of the many women who every day in Uganda go to look for water 3-4 times, under the sun, while the men wait at home. “Our challenge – she says – is the dry season and the long distance from the water source, but you have to go about 3-4 times a day, which is very tiring”.

Uganda is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa with the highest growth rates but remains one of the poorest in the world. Important resources such as adequate sanitation, access to electricity, health, well-being, education and nutrition are lacking. Sanitation is still a major challenge in northern Uganda: only 30% of households have functioning toilets and around 600,000 families do not. Amref operates in Uganda, a non-profit, independent, non-partisan and non-denominational organization, active in 35 countries south of the Sahara, with 21 offices located on the African continent, but also in the USA, Canada and Europe.

Women’s day in Uganda revolves around the search for water, which is very difficult to find clean and drinkable.

The well in the village of Aloyo

Amref is committed to promoting the right to health of Africans with projects that involve community inhabitants, local health workers and public health systems. As Aloyo says, he lives in a village where Amref built a well. “The water is helping us a lot, we plant vegetables near the well and this helps to change the diet because most of the families here plant only cereals and not vegetables. This well is used by many people and gets crowded in the evening. If you don’t go into the hot sun early, it means you won’t have water because we only have a good source of water. This water is good for all household uses, such as bathing, cooking and washing, including other household uses.Without this well, we would still be drinking dirty water from streams which then dry up.

The Amref Solar for inclusive WASH project in Uganda

These shots by photographer Esther Ruth Mbabazi, taken in Uganda, are taken within the Solar for Inclusive WASH project: a project funded by the Peter Wallenberg Water for All Foundation and by the Water for All committees of Atlas Copco and Epiroc, historic partner companies by Amref. The goal of the Solar for Inclusive WASH project, one of the many that Amref works on, is to provide solar energy and better water and sanitation services to 48 communities in the Pader district located in Northern Uganda. Thanks to this intervention, which will last 3 years, access to WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) services will increase for 5,100 pupils in 6 schools, will improve hygiene and sanitation practices for 5,100 pupils and 23,400 members of the communities involved, and access to drinking water and sanitation will be guaranteed for a total of about 30,000 people.

How to support Amref projects

The donations are transformed into clean and safe water to drink, into vaccines for the little ones, or into foods with a high nutritional content for mothers suffering from nutritional deficiencies. Amref trains local health workers, who will be able to take care of their own continent. Of every euro raised, 70 cents are allocated to field activities and awareness and advocacy activities, while only 30 cents are retained to manage the structure and to generate fundraising which allows us, in turn, to increase interventions and the actions we carry out for the health of Africa. For information:

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