Poverty and Famine Relief in the Developing World
Water wells were traditionally used in the UK as a source of water since Neolithic times, and there was one near my home as a child. Most of the time water pumped from subterranean aquifers is already safe to drink as its naturally filtered and purified. More than 80% of all diseases in developing countries are related to dirty water and poor sanitation. To dig a water well costs very little,'Water Aid', by way of example, charges £292 to dig a water well in a developing country, so an area in famine that makes the headlines can be easily and cheaply helped by the digging of enough water wells for all.
I have been interested in digging water wells in Developing Nations for decades as part of a world wide poverty and famine relief method. As Anne Isabella Ritchie once said:"... if you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour; if you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn."
'Water Wells For Africa' says that each water well dug produces enough water for 2,000 people , it also quadruples food production, brings the Birth Rate down to Western Levels within three months (known as the Buxton Gap), and the green circles around the water wells can be seen from space. Women, who do the work of getting most of the water, are saved from a laborious and dangerous job. I am sure many reading this will remember the true story of a woman from Ethipia on May 19th, 2000, Letikiros Hailu, committing suicide after breaking her only water pot while doing this job on behalf of her family. A water well was dug by the Oxfam Charity in the area where Letikiros Hailu had lived when the story became public knowledge.
My great grandfather had several water wells dug in the Middle East as part of a failed project to provide food, and peace in the the region. He failed because his water wells were dry. I since found that there are 41 geological reasons why water does not necessarily run into the water wells, and found that they were all cured with a time bomb placed in the newly dug well, this breaks up hardened soil, and allows water to flow. This was subsequently done to my great-grandfather's wells, and they produced water (and hopefully some peace) in the region. In a similar way, I had dug water wells in every Palestinian Refugee Camp in the area of Israel. Just as planned, the Israelis filled them in. At the time the United Nations fined countries, and politicians, £2,000 for every break of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the fines paid were enough to dig water wells in Israel's neighbours, the rapid increase in food production was enough to end the First Interfada, and peace was restored. (The Israeli politicians then restricted the movement and sale of the increased amount of food, which caused the Second Interfada! I campaign for politicians to have IQs of over 150, and now you know why.)
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) says:
Long before the advent of modern medical care, industrialized countries decreased their levels of water-related disease through good water management. Yet, even in these countries, outbreaks of water-borne disease continue to occur, sometimes with lethal consequences. In developing countries, preventable water-related disease blights the lives of the poor. Diseases resulting from bad hygiene rank among the leading causes of ill-health.
Much of this suffering is needless. Health provides an effective gateway for development and poverty alleviation. Improving water management is a powerful tool that can be used by individuals, communities and households to protect their own health.
3.4 million people, mostly children, die annually from water-related diseases. Most of these illnesses and deaths can be prevented through simple, inexpensive measures. For instance, trachoma remains the leading cause of preventable blindness, accounting for 146 million acute cases around the world. But the disease is almost unheard of in places where basic water supply, sanitation and hygiene prevail.
Safe water supply and adequate sanitation to protect health are among the basic human rights. Ensuring their availability would contribute immeasurably to health and productivity for development. "Business as usual" is no longer an option. We don't have enough time to just wait for large infrastructure investments to provide these basic services to all who need them. Several simple interventions are available, such as improving the quality of water in the home as well as improving hygiene education at the household level. Poor people can take charge of their own destinies and improve their lives by applying some of these measures. But they need to know what works and how such interventions can be exploited.
For more information on water wells please see: Wikipedia