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In response to global water crisis two missionary efforts provide clean water and living water

Unfortunately the global water crisis in the world today does not get the media attention like war and terrorism even though it claims more lives through disease than war does through weapons. It also does not really the concern for international action that natural disasters does, despite the fact that more people die from water-related illnesses than from all the world’s hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes combined. This silent crisis is tolerated by those with the resources, technology, and political power to end it, yet this crisis is holding back human progress and consigning large segments of humanity to lives of poverty, vulnerability, and insecurity. According to recent numbers by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 884 million people without adequate safe drinking water and a correlating 2.5 billion without adequate water for sanitation. These issues are coupled because a shortage in water for sewage disposal the drinking water becomes contaminated which results in and inadequate safe supply of water. This problem is most pronounced for children living in underdeveloped countries, where 3,900 children per day die of diarrhea alone. While deaths are generally considered preventable, the solution is considered complex.

What is clear is that 5 million people, mainly children, die every year from preventable, water-related diseases. Surely this is one of the great tragedies in the world today. Unfortunately, even though there is growing awareness of the need, a report by the Pacific institute states that as many as 34 million people might die from water-related illnesses in the next twenty years and again most of these will be children. Although this problem faces children world-wide the worst hit countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Children are among the weakest members of the world communities. Everyday water-related illnesses claim the lives of 5,000 children under the age of five.

Another problem related to the above listed factors is lack of, or under-education. More than 150 million school age children are infected with water borne parasites like roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm. The parasites they carry, sometimes up to 1,000 at a time, causes anemia, stunt growth, and cause other debilitating conditions which make education a difficult task. However for many children, disease, the task of helping carry water, and other poverty issues keep children from even being able to attend school, if one is available. It is estimated that 443 million should days are lost due to water-related illnesses. Those who do attend school are often faced with learning difficulties related to chronic illnesses.

Childhood malnutrition is also tied to water-related illnesses. On average, children in poor countries with unsafe drinking water have an average of 4 or 5 episodes of serious diarrhea, severely undermining their nutritional status. In a vicious cycle malnourished children are more susceptible to other diseases. Deaths of newborn infants are also tied to poor hygiene which is related to unsafe water supply and water shortages.
Although this problem may seem insurmountable, there are individuals and non-profit humanitarian programs and organizations who are attempting to address this problem. One has a local connection, His Hands Mission International (HHMI). Joel Aycock, son of Jimmy and Ann Aycock who live in Madison, AL, is one of these individuals. He spoke recently at one of the local churches about his work in El Paraiso, Copan, Honduras. This is a mountainous, rural area in the Copan Mountains of Honduras. Here, as in many areas in third world countries the people share their drinking water with cattle and other livestock. He spoke of one family that he had helped by providing a water filtration system. When he first met the family their four children were suffering from skin rashes and digestive problems which result for drinking contaminated water. They were listless and could not attend school. The father often could not work because of water-related diseases and the mother struggled to care for her family. After providing the family with a biosand water filter which costs $35 to build and installed it in their home the children now have so much energy their mother often complains but only in jest. The three oldest children can now attend school and their father no longer misses work. Through HHMI Joel and others work to provide families in the remote areas of the Copan mountains with clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and sanitary purposes. Through providing clean water to the people they are also able to share about the Living Water. To learn more about HHMI visit their website at http://www.hishands.ws or if you are interested in taking part in a missionary project or vacation contact Joel by email at Joel.Aycock@Hishands.ws. If you wish to contribute to the project their address is His Hands Mission International, 801 Clinton Ave. SE, Huntsville, AL, 35801.

Another group that is working to provide clean drinking water to third world countries is Living Water, International (LWI). LWI, which is based in Houston, TX and currently operates in 25 countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. LWI drills water wells for communities. They have drilled more than 6,500 wells that serve an estimated 9.5 million people. More information can be learned by visiting LWI’s website at http://www.water.cc. You can also learn how you can help there are places on the webpage where you can learn about donating and/or volunteering.

These two organizations don’t just provide filters or drill wells. They also train, consult, and equip local people to implement solutions in their own areas. HHMI trains people in the importance of clean water, how to build the filter, how it works, and how to take care of it. LWI has training programs in shallow well drilling, pump repair, and hygiene education. These organizations are equipping volunteers and professionals in the basics of integrated water solutions.

 

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