“We are so grateful for this,” a community member of Dei, Uganda, smiled as he gestured to one of his community’s new safe water tap stands. These are words Water Missions International hears quite often on days like this, when community members gather together to celebrate their newly operational safe water solution. For Dei, this day represented a long-fought struggle to save lives in their community.
Situated on the shores of Lake Albert, Dei lives off the lake water. Most community members are fishermen by trade, journeying out every day to cast their nets in the water in hopes of hauling in a catch big enough to feed families and maybe put some extra money on the table. But the same water they relied upon to keep them alive was also killing them.
Cholera broke out several years ago. This waterborne illness spread rapidly, and the 10,000 people of Dei lacked safe water.
“A health center was constructed just because of the outbreak of cholera,” a man from Dei explained. “In 2005, 82 people died [from cholera]. In 2006, 104 people died. Last year alone we treated over 200 people who were sick with cholera. The government could only provide us with powdered chlorine.”
The powered chlorine wasn’t able to meet the need for safe water or quell the rising cases of cholera. Desperate for help, the people of Dei requested help from Water Missions International. Thanks to funding from UNICEF, Grundfos, and Northwoods Church, Water Missions International worked with the community to develop a customized safe water solution tailored to meet their needs.
The project in Dei is innovative in that it implements our TradeWater business model. Water Missions International technicians and community members constructed a water treatment and tap stand system that could reach the entire community. Lake water is pumped to a treatment house where it is filtered by four Living Water™ Treatment Systems. The now safe water then travels through pipes to a tap stand at the community school and health clinic. However, these are only two of the locations served by this project. The water is also piped to a water distribution store at the community’s business center as well as six small water kiosks. This widespread distribution means that 50% of the population lives within 200ft of either a kiosk or the business center, where they can purchase safe water for a small fee.
“Since this project was brought here, we have never even had a single case of cholera, not a single case,” one community member rejoiced. “The time was right that Water Missions should bring this water here. Since Water Missions installed this project, people have started to know what life is all about. They’ve started knowing the meaning of life.”
Remote monitoring data has shown that since the project’s commissioning, roughly 60% of the population now purchases safe water daily. Water Missions International hopes to see this number grow as our staff continues to work with this community. The difference that safe water has made for Dei’s cholera outbreak has taught community members the importance of safe water, but more importantly, it has given them a new chance for better life.