Water in Community Development

By Jeff Palmer, CEO on February 12, 2018 | Print

One of the most common and obvious needs around the world is clean water. Think about all the ways we use water: food production, household use, cooking, and more! The most important way we use water is drinking. You can live without a lot of things (at least for a time), but you need water to sustain life.

I worked with all kinds of water projects through the years. Together with my team, I helped individual communities build their own well or harvest water from a good source, such as collecting rainwater or using a gravity-fed line from a distant spring. I also led  institution-based water projects such as clean water for a school, orphanage, or rural health clinic. Some places have abundant but poor-quality water, my team helped with filtration or purification units.

During my time in the Philippines, our water development team averaged 20 to 30 village water systems per year. Our extension teams, working together with local communities, identified areas in need of water. The water development team worked with the interested communities to come up with the best and most sustainable option for that particular community.

Our projects funded the water development team, equipment used to get clean water, and other needed materials. The local communities typically would provide some of the materials (locally available things like sand, cement, etc.) as well as labor to construct whatever water system they decided on. The communities also would provide lodging and some food (mainly rice) for our team while they were in the community.

Generally, it would take between 2-4 weeks to complete a system. During that time, our trained water development team would live, move, and work among the local community members. They would train the community in implementation and maintenance of the water system. They also would share their off-time, meals, and truth of God’s love with the community as long as they were there.

In most cases, we would see a grateful community with a good water system after our working there. In many of those cases, we would also see people come to faith and, in a few places, a new church started or a local church strengthened.