In Zambia, only 15% of the population has access to a piped drinking water supply, and 35% of the population uses untreated drinking water (including surface water). Unicef estimates that 4.8 million people in Zambia, around 36% of the population, are without access to clean water. Also, more than 25% of schools do not have access to safe water supply and sanitation, and more than half of the population lacks access to proper sanitation facilities. Lack of access to clean water in combination with a lack of proper sanitation facilities makes preventable, water-borne diseases easily transmittable and likely to occur in rural parts of Zambia.
In order to provide clean water to rural communities, the CCAP Synod of Zambia partnered with Marion Medical Mission, a non-government organization based in Marion, Ohio, and formed the Shallow Wells Department. With funding from Marion Medical Mission, the Shallow Wells Department has constructed over 5,000 shallow wells throughout the eastern part of Zambia, providing clean drinking water to local communities and families. The shallow wells also make water much more conveniently located for bathing, washing clothing and dishes, and other chores so women and children do not have to travel such long distances for access to water. The department currently operates with four field officers who help locate where the wells should be dug and provide concrete needed for the wells’ construction.
For each shallow well, the cost amounts to about 4,500 kw (around $450 US dollars) and, every year, there are about 1,000 requests from community members in need of shallow wells. In 2015, the Shallow Wells Department constructed 504 shallow wells and the department hopes to construct even more wells in the upcoming years. The only cost to the community for a shallow well is 50 kw (about $5 US dollars) every year, which covers maintenance and repair costs. The community also collects building materials such as bricks, crushed stones, river sand, and building sand as well as digs the hole for the shallow well. The shallow wells do not belong to the church but rather the community who uses the shallow well. Therefore, it is a source of tremendous pride for the local people to maintain and have ownership of a shallow well that provides them with clean drinking water. The department also has training programs that teach community members how they can manage their shallow wells as well as raise the 50 kw necessary for the shallow well to be maintained or repaired.
Since the Shallow Wells Department has been in operation, many families and communities have reported improved health, higher standards of living, and a revived sense of commitment to the church. Many families, including children, reported getting stomach cramps when they would drink the water in the surrounding area. Water-borne diseases, such as cholera, were especially prevalent in communities where using unclean water was their only option. Community members reported that these health problems associated with unclean drinking water prevented children from attending school and also forced families to travel long distances for better sources of water. Now, families report less health problems since the shallow wells were constructed in their communities. People in the communities that have received shallow wells have even opened CCAP prayer houses and have become committed CCAP church members because of the work the department did for their community.
The Shallow Wells Department is entirely funded by Marion Medical Mission.
Shallow Wells Department
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