The numbers are staggering. The UN talks about “the bottom billion” — that’s billion with a B. This is the segment of the world’s population that urgently needs access to clean water and sanitation services and electricity.
According to UNWater:
“Worldwide, 1.3 billion people cannot access electricity, 768 million people lack access to improved water sources, and 2.5 billion people have no improved sanitation. Water and energy have crucial impacts on poverty alleviation.”
It can be difficult to wrap our minds around numbers as large as these. Hundreds of millions of people…a couple of billion people — this sounds impossible.
When a problem seems too big, we focus on the individuals, families, and communities where clean water and sanitation have changed (and saved) lives.
In most of the communities served by Feed the Children in Central America, families do not have daily access to running water. They have to walk long distances to rivers or springs to get water to drink, cook, wash clothes, and bathe. Most of them do not have toilets; instead, they use latrines that they can’t clean with water.
We can do something about this, one community at a time, one school at a time. We’re bringing clean water and sanitation to people who have suffered from parasites, diarrhea, and other water-borne illnesses their entire lives.
In the community of Jardines del Norte in Honduras, children used to become so malnourished from the parasites living in their bodies that they had to be admitted to the hospital for months at a time.
Jeimy is the youngest of seven children born to Karen and Juan. Her father has been unable to find a steady job, and her mother stays home to care for the children. When Jeimy was four months old, she became so desperately ill that she was admitted to a nutrition center. It took seven months for her to become stable. Today she is almost two years old and already has logged numerous visits to the hospital emergency room for treatment for multiple parasites.
In addition to helping provide Jeimy the medication and nutrition she needs to remain stable, Feed the Children recently helped her community dig a well. The well is located at the perimeter wall of the community school, and the entire community is able to fill jugs and buckets of water to use for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
It is still a far cry from the indoor plumbing we take for granted in our own homes, but children and their families are grateful to have a secure, reliable, and safe source of water available.
Today, many other improvements are visible in this community. Men attend a carpentry school in a nearby community where they learn to build sturdy and beautiful furniture. The school provides hot meals five days a week to children who did not have a reliable source of food before. None of this could have happened without safe drinking water.
We are repeating the same story all over the region. Feed the Children–El Salvador has installed running water in the community of El Guayabo, improving the status of an entire school of 600 children. In the community of La Labor, Feed the Children–El Salvador installed a water filter to provide access to potable water for 150 children and their families.