A water project helps the inhabitants of the village of Masanga in Mara
The World Health Organization estimates that 785 million people do not even have access to basic drinking water service, while a quarter of the world’s population has access only to contaminated sources, the origin of widespread water-borne diseases. Access to safe drinking water and an adequate supply for health care facilities is of great concern.
In response to this challenge, the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development launched in 2020 a project to remedy the situation regarding water, sanitation and hygiene, called “WASH”, in health establishments. Catholics around the world.
The project carried out a global survey, then developed strategies and concrete responses for the most disadvantaged. The project continues today in partnership with Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Internationalis and Global Water 2020, among others, to network knowledge, best practices and funding on a vital issue for all.
The Catholic Church operates nearly half of all health facilities in the world where they are virtually non-existent, due to poverty or the inability of regions to provide health care in remote areas. Access to clean, reliable and visible water is essential to provide these services. Without clean water, sinks, soaps, toilets and hygiene procedures, billions of patients, caregivers and families are at risk because there is no foundation or infrastructure for decent, safe and healthy care. quality.
“Fresh and potable water is an issue of prime importance because it is essential for human life and for the maintenance of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Fresh water sources are necessary for health care (…). A particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor. Every day, unsafe water results in many deaths and the spread of water-related diseases, especially those caused by microorganisms and chemicals.
Dysentery and cholera, linked to a lack of hygiene and water supply, are a major cause of child suffering and mortality.
A concrete example of this reality can be shared by Sister Daughter of Charity Bibiane Bokamba who runs a Church-run health center and dispensary in Masanga, Tanzania, a remote town in the northwest on the border with Kenya. She also runs a nearby “DREAM Center” health facility.
DREAM is a health program established by the Community of Sant’Egidio, in collaboration with the DREAM Foundation, to treat and prevent HIV / AIDS in Africa, but over the years the scope has expanded to promote universal health in Africa with DREAM standing for “Disease Relief by Excellent and Advanced Means”.
The facilities run by Sister Bokamaba are the only ones in the area, with the nearest town a three hour drive away. The centers provide nearly 400 medical visits per month, in addition to basic care and advice for those who request it. Nearby is also a primary school.
The economy of the region and the small, sparsely populated villages is primarily agricultural, with survival a major challenge for most. Until a little over a year ago, the need for water was dire, given that they did not have enough wells or the means to collect water. In addition, it was not possible to ensure safe drinking water.
But then, Sister Bokamba worked with the community to get involved in the modernization of water and sanitation infrastructure by partnering with several charitable NGOs working in the field, also in collaboration with the Dicastery for the promotion of development. integral human.
Thanks to these efforts, more than fifty thousand people now have access to drinking water, which supplies the health and Dream centers, which are essential for their services. Sister Bokamba now says, “We have clean drinking water. We made a well. We also bought the tank to collect the rainwater, so we could keep it and use it.
Collecting rainwater helps them get through the dry summer months, which was not possible before the drilling of a new well to which three reservoirs are connected. While the situation has greatly improved, she hopes to add more wells, as the needs of the population are great.
“We need to add more water. We can build a well like we did in the hospital. So I think we need to be helped again for water. At the same time, the water supply to the health centers and to Dream has saved countless lives. “So our hospital helps a lot of people”, says Sister Bokamba, and “everything for us is a very big help for the population”.
The Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development published last year a document entitled: “Aqua fons vitae – Guidelines on Water, symbol of the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth”.
The text examines the social teachings of the popes, local churches and emphasizes the importance of water for all as an essential resource that must be safeguarded. Sister Bokamba can relate to this wholeheartedly, based on her own lived experience and that of those she serves in Masanga, Tanzania.