When we think about people, families, and communities in need of water in non-disaster events, four basic abilities help us evaluate the need:
- Ability to get water. Most communities in the world are located near natural transportation options and available resources like a good water source. As populations grow and communities develop, there are ever increasing demands for natural resources (such as water). Obtaining water is a key issue in many of BGR’s communities; we often spend time engaging these places with water solutions. It is not uncommon for rural and poorer communities to spend a lot of their time getting water; it can take up to 4-5 hours of labor per day to “fetch” water for many families around the world. Most of this work burden falls to the women and children. So, a key component to water strategies is to make it easier for people to get water.
- Ability to use water. Depending on the intended use of water once they obtain it, we can concentrate on different strategies and ministries. If they are using the water for drinking, then we need to consider how to make the water clean and safe (see our previous blogs on water filtration and purification). If they are mainly needing water for sanitation and household use purposes, the cleanliness of the water is not as huge of an issue. However, do know that there are water-borne parasites that can come from bathing in contaminated water, so it is good to know the local situation. There may need to be some type of filtration/purification even for household water.
- Ability to store water. One of the overlooked strategies in water development is water storage. This is extremely important in arid areas, places with severe winters, and locations with little or intermittent supply. Helping families and communities with water storage techniques can be a simple, practical, effective and relationship intensive way to really help people.
- Ability to manage water. Another overlooked water development strategy that can very much help people and be a great way to have access to your target population is water management strategies. Simple things such as getting a community to look at its existing water systems and finding ways to improve through technology or maybe simple sharing and scheduling of use. Repairing leaks, inefficient delivery, and storage systems can help increase volume per household at a relatively low cost.
Over the next series of blogs, we’re going to look at ways that we can help people get water, store water, and even manage water. We won’t spend time on how to make water useable since we have already covered that (filtration and purification) in earlier blogs.
Again, we would love to hear your comments and questions regarding what we are sharing. Maybe you have some different experiences as well that would help us all? Please feel free to share.