Access to Food and Health Requires Clean Water and a Healthy Planet, Part 2
In Nicaragua, our partner El Porvenir is working with communities on integrated water, sanitation and hygiene programs that are notably impacting people’s health. Zeneyda, a resident of the rural community of El Chaguite, said that before a well was built, she got up at 4 a.m. and walked 20 minutes to collect contaminated water from a nearby creek. Without latrines, her community had frequent cases of diarrhea, especially among small children. She has had three miscarriages caused by toxoplasmosis parasite due to fecal contamination on her hands. Zeneyda said, “We have worked with this organization in the building of a community well and in the construction of latrines in every home… to have a better quality of life.”
Access to clean water in El Chaguite and any other community, however, is contingent on preventing the depletion of available water sources. To ensure that deforestation does not deplete the local watershed further, El Porvenir sets up community tree nurseries, plants trees in watershed areas, and raises awareness on the link between trees and water. Cutting down trees for cooking fuel contributes to deforestation, so the program also has begun to promote low-fuel smokeless stoves that are built to use fallen branches rather than tree trunks for fuel. Chimneys are added to the stoves to decrease direct smoke inhalation, which contributes to respiratory infections among women and children.
World Water Day is a reminder that our health is interconnected with the health of our planet and that there is a careful balance we must achieve to sustain both. From agricultural infrastructure, to planting trees to digging latrines, Episcopal Relief & Development is committed to addressing all aspects required for both clean and adequate water and a steady food supply for the communities we serve
To learn more about how human usage affects the natural water cycle, watch this World Water Day animation (iPhone and iPad users can download an mp4 file).
Saranga Jain is a Program Officer witih Episcopal Relief & Development.
Photos: Left, courtesy of El Porvenir staff in Nile Sprague. Right, courtesy of El Porvenir staff in El Chaguite.