This year’s theme for “World Water Day” is “Valuing Water”. The observance is about what water means to everyday people, its value in their lives, and their thoughts about how to better protect this vital resource. Because a comprehensive understanding of water’s multidimensional importance and value is required if we are going to safeguard this essential resource for our own use and preserve it for future generations. And even if some see the value of water only as a commodity for sale, it has an enormous and complex value for nearly every aspect of our life together.
Yet, today, half of the population does not have the basic facilities for washing their hands with soap and water and are without toilets. This situation, unacceptable in the 21st century, causes two million deaths of children every year because of diarrhea due to the intake of unsafe water.
Other statistics reveal that the water that a person consumes in one day in Europe is equal to that available to three families in a whole week in Ethiopia. Also: the time of a school day for a European girl is equal to the time spent by a minor to bring water to her family in many places in Africa, America and Asia.
Faced with this situation, the Salesians are widely committed to improving access to this fundamental good or resource for life. In fact, 25% of Salesian projects to combat the coronavirus in the last year have had to do with access to water and adequate sanitation.
In the last year only, for example, more than 254,000 people have had access to water and adequate sanitation facilities thanks to the projects carried out by "Misiones Salesianas", the Salesian Mission Office in Madrid, in countries such as Namibia, Haiti, Tanzania, Togo, Colombia and the Republic of the Congo ...
And the Salesian Mission Office of Madrid also reports that in the last two decades it has developed more than one hundred related projects, which have benefited more than four million people thanks to a total investment of over 2.6 million euros.
Moreover, in Malawi, for example, thanks to funding from the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative”, “Don Bosco High School in Nkhotakota” has got now a second borehole to provide clean, fresh water for its students and staff.
Don Bosco High School was launched in direct response to the need for education for youth in the southwestern part of Nkhotakota. The school started with 88 students and six teachers. Today, Don Bosco High School has 378 students across four grades educated by 20 teachers. More than half of the students are from the local community, but the school does board 160 students.
“The biggest challenge the school faced was the chronic lack of regular water supply for both our boarding and day students,” said Father J. Czerwinski, rector of the Salesian community. “Although the school is near a large lake and connected to the town water source, there were still acute water shortages every day. The town supply is very erratic and unreliable. This caused problems for our students including a lack of proper hygiene, a health hazard, and no water for cooking and drinking. Now students and the community have a sufficient amount of water. This directly positively impacts their educational environment”.
Funding from the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” was utilized to dig a borehole, install a water pump and solar panels, and construct a water tank in Nkhotakota, Malawi.
Sources: Salesian Missions (New Rochelle – USA), Misiones Salesians (Madrid - Spain)