Episcopal Relief and Development commemorates World Water Day 2008

March 19, 2008

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is joining in the commemoration of World Water Day 2008 on March 22. The theme of this year's celebration is "Sanitation Matters!"

Clean water is a basic necessity for human life, yet 2.6 billion people around the world suffer from daily water shortages and struggle for access to safe drinking water, according to an ERD news release. In developing countries, more than 4,000 children die each day from preventable, water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis, and typhoid. Accessing clean water -- as easy as turning on a tap for residents of the western world -- is a challenging and time-consuming endeavor for nearly a third of the world's population, an activity that keeps children out of school and families shackled by poverty.

Access to clean water is a basic human right and Episcopal Relief and Development is especially committed to ensuring that communities have safe water sources and functional sanitation systems. By implementing innovative programs around the world that address basic needs, ERD works in partnerships with communities, members of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and ecumenical agencies to build wells, water systems, and latrines, educate communities on hygiene and sanitation, and reforest watershed lands to protect natural water sources.

"Clean water is a cornerstone of life. Where it is contaminated by pollution or poor sanitation, it can contribute to illness and even death," Abagail Nelson, ERD's vice president for programs, said. "Our programs are designed to empower communities to protect and manage it so that all benefit."

Maria and Juan, parents of five children in the village of Bijagua, Nicaragua, used to retrieve their household water from a contaminated stream that was a ten-minute walk from their home. The children were constantly sick with diarrhea. A daughter fell behind in school because she had to spend several hours a day collecting water to ensure that the family had enough for cooking, bathing, drinking and washing.

In Nicaragua, Episcopal Relief and Development partners with El Porvenir, an organization that helps communities to create clean water and sanitation systems and implement reforestation projects to safeguard natural water sources. With ERD's support, families in Bijagua received materials to build and maintain a clean water system and were given education and training on maintaining the system and protecting children from water-borne diseases.

"Our daughter is excelling in school now that she doesn't have to carry buckets of water!" Maria said. "And the children don't have diarrhea anymore."
To help create clean water sources and sanitation systems for the people who need them most, you can make a contribution to Episcopal Relief and Development's Clean Water Fund, by clicking here, or by calling 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can also be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development Clean Water Fund, P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.