A Job ‘Well’ Done in Kenya by 28Bold

A Job ‘Well’ Done in Kenya by 28Bold

Constructing wells is a delicate and complicated process, especially in Kenya. 28Bold’s founder, Christan, figured that out for herself during her trip there last fall. From the difficulty of gaining access for drilling to communicating across cultural barriers, completing the process within the West African country was not easy.

Kenya is a proud nation, rich in different customs and diverse terrains, but its governmental systems are shrouded in corruption. Much of business in Kenya is done with bribery, and many of its people live day to day without basic necessities, including clean water.

Despite the challenges Christan and her team encountered abroad, she knew that the locals were in critical need of clean water for various purposes, including bathing, drinking, and cleaning. Christan recalled a time when, after successfully drilling a well, a local woman with a small child on her back approached her and exclaimed,

“I never thought I’d be able to bathe my child every night.” 

Kenya woman carries child on back.

This instance serves as a reminder of how access to usable water truly is a blessing. Christan and her team worked tirelessly to bring the same joy felt by this woman to Kenya. However, it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing: there were several barriers to the clean water Kenyans deserved.

Complications with Drilling

Christan has worked abroad before, serving people throughout the African continent. Her time in Kenya was a learning experience, which forced her to reevaluate and tackle obstacles she had never faced before. In Kenya, several permits are required to access and drill wells. That process was challenging for Christan and her team, and once they had the ‘green light’ to drill, there were other difficulties. 

To build the wells, a rigorous drilling process is required. Christan had to drill 260 meters down to get to water. Once her team began, the drill bit broke.

“When a drill bit breaks, the only option is to take everything out… 260 meters… and start over. I was upset, to say the least.” 

Christan said the drill mechanic that was running the rig reported to her that he’d push it, and see what would happen. 

“He (the drill mechanic) said, miraculously, we continued on another 40 meters to be able to get where we needed to be. He said, ‘The only way I can explain it was that it was a miracle from God.”’

When the drill team started test-pumping water, Christan noticed that people started to line up for the potential of clean water.

“There were lines wrapped around the corner… the block… of women and children waiting for water,” Christan noted.

This shows, she remarked, how impactful it will be when it is running and accessible.

28Bold’s Impact

With its Biblically based name, 28Bold stands out from other organizations in the way that Christan conducts business. The name originally came from Proverbs 28 which says “the righteous are bold as a lion.” Christan’s organization is built upon the boldness and strength of the motif of a lion. And as a Christian, helping those with less has always been one of her top priorities, and that reflects on the selflessness of her business model.  

Meanwhile, she is aware that she is neither infallible nor all-knowing. In order to maintain balance, Christan is adamant about listening to the communities she is helping. Rather than speaking over them or assuming, she approaches every situation with an open mind. As a visitor to a foreign country, she tries to take an empathetic perspective to the work she does. 

“I have to think, what do they want? What is their goal?” Christan added.

Christan is aware of her American-ness in other countries, and she finds that approaching other cultures with an open heart is the best way to achieve success. Listening and understanding to the needs of the community, Christan feels, is the only option when working across cultural barriers. 

Bold, courageous, and empathetic, Christan continues to work toward accessible clean water in Kenya and other countries in Africa. If you would support Christan’s mission in providing clean water solutions to Kenya and other African countries, click here

You’re Part of the Equation

At Connect for Water, supporting and sharing stories like Christan’s is part of our mission. As a member of our network, you’re already on board with our mission. Continue to share and read these inspiring water stories, as they’re the link between you and water-needing communities. If you’d like to take on a mission of your own, there are several ways to help through Connect for Water. Visit our giving page to find the right option for you and help us help others. 

You’re Drinking Plastic, Science Says

You’re Drinking Plastic, Science Says

Trash piles up on shore. Credit: European Wilderness Society.

Envision plastic floating in the air all around you in tiny pieces. See it sitting on the top of your drinking water, in your food, and in your body. Dream of a world plastic-covered, with wrappers and garbage and small bits of it piling up on windowsills and in crevices. This is the current reality for ocean life, and it is beginning to become our human reality. 

A media-fueled uproar has occurred in the past five years in response. The plastic conversation, led mainly by the topic of plastic straws and bags, has aimed a spotlight on ocean pollution. Restaurants, coffee shops, and other straw-dealing businesses have ditched their plastic straws in an effort to combat the ocean-bound waste. Though banning plastic straws has helped the cause, some say it is a misplaced attempt to save the oceans and is simply a form of viral environmental consumerism

Plastics are not biodegradable. Larger plastics will simply degrade down to smaller forms to the point of being considered microplastics. Plastics that are less than 5 mm in length are considered ‘micro,’ and these are the most prevalent form of waste found in the oceans (NOAA). As microplastics get smaller and smaller, they are harder to detect by scientists. They often float to the bottom of the ocean floor.

Commercial Fishing and Microplastics

The relationship between microplastics and commercial fisheries is prominent from fishing boat to food market. 

As previously mentioned, the breakdown of larger plastic products into smaller components creates microplastics. It has been previously thought that much of the ocean’s waste comes from consumer packaging plastic, which holds true today. What scientists are just now discovering is that the truth of much microplastic waste is not a fisherman’s tale but is a tale of fishermen. 

Commercial fishing contributes heavily to ocean microplastics. The basis of much of this waste comes from nets, and namely old, deteriorating ones. Smithsonian Magazine reports that new and one-year-old synthetic ropes potentially release 20 microplastic fragments for every yard hauled in the ocean—and that this number climbs exponentially with older equipment. New Atlas estimates that with every meter of old rope hauled in, over 760 fragments of microplastics are released into our sacred oceans. 

Fish are consuming microplastics in every ocean of the world. In Science of the Total Environment, researchers found that aquatic life consumes microplastics in two main ways: actively and passively. While actively consuming microplastics, aquatic life confuses plastics for natural prey, and while passively, particles filter through any openings in the animal. 

When we eat fish and other marine organisms, we risk ingesting these microplastics. According to the Washington Post, a calculation found in June 2019 revealed that for Americans, by just eating, drinking, and breathing, they’re consuming up to 74,000 microplastic particles per year. Another study by the University of Newcastle in Australia estimated that people consume about 5 grams of plastic per week, which is the equivalent of about 3 playing cards. 

What do Microplastics Mean for Your Water?

We’re drinking a variable amount of microplastics in each sip we take from plastic bottles, new research by Orb Media states. Bottled water tested from several sources around the world for microplastics confirms microplastic contamination. Tests on more than 250 bottles from 11 brands show contamination with plastic including polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (Orb Media, PET). For each liter of bottled water, approximately 10.4 microplastic particles were present. The sizes of these particles were about 100 micron, or .10 mm. At an even smaller level, there were about 314.6 particles per liter located by the industry-standard infrared microscope. 

Research is emerging about the physical harm that microplastics could provoke within humans. We discard many of these particles in waste, but that some are so small that they remain within us. A journal by Scientific Reports suggests that plastics found in fish are likely the direct cause of observed behavioral disorders within those fish.

Let’s Fix It

It may not be possible to completely ‘fix’ the microplastics problem. However, there are some ways to eat and drink differently so that your body may become more plastic-free, as well as ways to help rid our Earth of plastic. 

1. Plastic Bottle-No-More. Filter Your Water. 

Our partner, Business Connect, has several affordable at-home water filter options so that you may avoid risking ingesting microplastics. Their VF100 water filter is a .1 micron filter which meets and exceeds EPA and WHO world standards for filtration. Water filters are the best way to ditch plastic bottles, and they’ll last years longer than disposable items like bottles.

2. Eat Less Fish. 

Try to reduce your consumption of aquatic foods. Plastics exist in up to 386 aquatic species (Ecowatch). Therefore, there isn’t one right fish to buy. When you buy less fish from the market, you are also not feeding into the commercial fishing and netting industry. Many fishing vessels, of the 4.6 million afloat in the world, have illegally dumped old nets and gear for years. This is a problem that will not float away.

3. Don’t Throw Away Your Clothes. 

Clothing fiber is made up mostly of nylon, polyester, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers. A 2017 report states that up to 35% of microplastics in our oceans come from synthetic fabrics. Before you throw your clothes out, consider donating them or reusing them for other purposes. 

Help Us Help You

The problem of microplastics is one of your water, and therefore one of your health. We care about your water situation, no matter the need, as well as your health. Connect with us. If you subscribe to our weekly newsletter, you can get updates about blog posts and happenings in the world of water. We want you to stay informed of everything we’re up to, so you may be included in alleviating the world’s water crisis.

The Complex Problem in Ghana

The Complex Problem in Ghana

The warm morning sun rises early to a new day in Ghana, to the sound of familiar chatter around your dwelling. The women of one rural village are preparing to fetch water for drinking and bathing, as they do every day, so you join them. You are greeted with “Ɛte sɛn?” or “how are you?” which is a common greeting in Twi, to which you respond “Ɛyɛ” or “I’m fine.” On your walk to the water source, which is little more than a pond, you notice that some of the children are full of life and energy, but others seem sluggish and tired. You want to ask them, “Ɛte sɛn?” but part of you doesn’t want to know the answer.  

Rural Ghana

For Ghana’s rural population, life is not easy. Things we take for granted in the Western world, like water and electricity, are hard to come by. In a prosperous Southern village of Ghana, there may be several local teachers in a concrete school building. But in rural areas, especially Northern Ghana, there may be only one or two teachers in a structure made of mud and thatch roofing. In these areas, children usually only complete primary school because secondary school is too far away from their village. These children will instead join their families to fetch water, complete chores, and help with the farm. Many Ghanaians tend to fields or livestock for their livelihood. While agriculture employs over half of Ghana’s population, particularly in these rural areas, the farmers’ irrigation needs can upset the town’s already insufficient water supply. As a result, many farmers become displaced during seasons of flood and drought.

Migration to Cities

Urbanization is a complex trend occurring across the African continent. In Ghana, many people began moving towards cities in the 1990s during the presidency of Jerry Rawlings. Since then, Ghana’s government has successfully increased access to public education, healthcare, and WASH services in urban areas. According to the Radiant Ghana Guide, 93% of Ghana’s urban population now has access to clean drinking water. The massive growth of Ghana’s urban population has also come with a boost to the economy, mainly due to the development of Ghana’s oil industry (International Monetary Fund). But many people still living in rural Ghana have not felt the benefits of governmental stability. Ghana’s success is slow-reaching for the rural population, where only 35% of people have access to clean drinking water.

Illegal Mines

Noticing these desperate rural communities of Ghana, Chinese nationals have begun ‘moving in’ to operate illegal mines. Locals in need of cash will “galamsey”, or “gather them and sell” to the Chinese, who smuggle the precious minerals out of the country. This is exceedingly dangerous work. Many men either die in homemade mine-shafts or from exposure to toxic chemicals used during extraction. The heavy metals brought out by extraction during these small-scale mining operations have a large impact: they contaminate waterways, sometimes for entire communities (NASA). Because of the serious environmental impact of galamsey, Ghana’s government has taken a strict stand against this illegal mining. After deploying 200 soldiers to lakes and rivers in Central and Western Ghana, President Akufo-Addo said, 

“Mining becomes a danger to the society when, after extracting the gold, diamond, or other stones and minerals, the land is left degraded and poisoned with toxic materials.” (Reuters)

The success of Ghana’s government in standing up to these external forces again proves their strength and resilience. Still, the current situation is far from solved for the men, women, and children living in rural areas. These mines are hard to locate since they are on such a small scale. They are also hidden away in dense forests and sometimes only contain a few men per site. Often illegal mines are also scattered near legal mining operations. This makes the distinction between legal and illegal mining hard to spot. 

Oftentimes, we want to make a difference by setting goals for ourselves. Perhaps we promise to take shorter showers or turn off the tap. Unfortunately, being fully sustainable and waste free is unfeasible. The good news is that small changes make a big difference. If more people subtly changed their routines, it would make more of an impact than anything else.

Help Ghana 

Rural Ghana has a need you can help us fulfill. Interested in helping Ghanaians access clean water? You can make an impact on their lives today: we have several ways to help. If you want to receive more stories like this or have a question, fill out our connection form here. Go to our giving page if you’d like to become a water sponsor, are interested in championing a project, or simply give.

Sierra Leone, Then and Now

Sierra Leone, Then and Now

Featuring commentary from our founder, Lou Haveman

Children gather on a bridge after school in Kroo Bay, one of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. Credit: EU/ECHO/Jonathan Hyams

Imagine carrying 5 buckets of water each day to and from your house: to bathe, to cook, and to drink—and then worrying about which bacterial infection you might receive. 

In the United States, this is something that is largely avoided. However, other countries around the world, such as Sierra Leone, struggle with access to clean water on a daily basis.

In Sierra Leone, the general population has extremely low access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), at just 16% of the population. Less than 1% of the population has piped water in their home. Low access to WASH contributes to health concerns such as diarrhea, acute respiratory illnesses, undernutrition and worm infestations. All of these can lead to death and many other health issues. (UNICEF).

Connect for Water founder Lou Haveman reflected on his time living in Sierra Leone. Haveman lived in Sierra Leone through part of the 1980s as well as in several other regions of Africa. 

Lou’s Recollection

“In that day, we didn’t think of clean water. I’ve regretted living (in Sierra Leone) at that point and time because here’s the thing: almost everybody had a chronic case of bacterial infection,” reflected Haveman.

While in Sierra Leone, Haveman and his team focused mostly on food insecurity, community development and literacy. All which are important issues—but dodge the root of many health concerns in the region: lack of clean water. However, water was not a major concern at the time because of the abundance of rainfall in the region. 

“If you know anything about the geography of Sierra Leone you know it’s high forests, lots of rainfall, 60 to 80 inches a year,” said Haveman. “So, lots of streams, lakes and a lot of rivers. The source of water for almost everyone was open wells, rivers and streams.” 

“If we had known what we know now, we could have gone in and just provided clean filtration or clean water and called it good, but we didn’t know that and we didn’t focus on water,” Haveman added. 

Present Day Sierra Leone 

‘What we know now’ is that much of the water in Sierra Leone is contaminated. Although rainfall and water is plentiful, the quality of that water is subpar. Therefore, access to clean sanitation is nearly impossible for the average household in Sierra Leone, bringing about waterborne disease. According to UNICEF and Haveman, much of the problem comes from poor infrastructure, which leads to human and animal defecation leaking into drinking water.  

Sierra Leone is a beautiful region, spotted with beaches, flourishing trees—it should have a stable, tourist-centered economy to support secure infrastructure—it does not. 

“Sierra Leone experienced a civil war for a number of years and a lot of the infrastructure that did exist was destroyed, including some water systems. Now there’s a higher population and more demand for water,” stated Haveman.  

This is the raw truth. Before the civil war, people lived in the countryside of Sierra Leone and access to clean water was plentiful. It bubbled out of springs and rushed down mountainsides. As the war began, people started to move to the capital, Freetown, and the population grew, but infrastructure did not improve (NPR). These people are now crammed into small brown villas with metal roofs, fighting off disease. 

As of now, many neighborhoods have implemented water kiosks. For a small fee, villagers can fill up their cans with water trickling from taps. In some areas of Sierra Leone, water kiosks are run by private companies with their own buildings. Many sources of water, though, are just pipes that run above ground or water collected from rivers and rainfall.

To our Network 

Here at Connect for Water, we aim to give hope to areas like Sierra Leone. Though it may be hard to envision this reality, it’s important to us that you’ve taken the time to read about it, so, thank you! If you want to hear more stories like this, join our network here. If you want to help us raise funds for those in Sierra Leone, go to our sponsorship page here

4 Hidden Ways to Conserve Water

4 Hidden Ways to Conserve Water

As the water crisis develops worldwide, there has been an urge for you to take part in water conservation. Doing your part will help global efforts to reduce water consumption. Turn off the tap. You’ve heard this phrase often – don’t leave water running for too long, take shorter showers. These practices are wonderful and can save several gallons of water per day, but are the most obvious to put into practice. Listed below are some tips to conserve water even when it isn’t obvious!

1. Your Milk: Hopefully not Almond!

Almond milk has been awful for the world of water. Almonds are mainly grown and harvested in California, where land is continuing to be irrigated for the use of almond production. According to a New York Times article, it takes 15 gallons of water to grow just 16 almonds there. The natural lands harvested for almond farms are mostly wetlands, taking away natural water-rich systems from the state. Although almond milk is tasty, consider alternatives such as soy or oat. Soy, a great alternative post-workout, is packed with protein: a new version of it has almost 20g of protein per serving. 

2. Conserve with Mulch

If you have any trees growing around you, make sure they are circled by mulch. Mulch acts as a moisture holder for the soil underneath a tree, nurturing its roots. It also acts as defense against the sun, keeping a tree cool during hot periods of the day. Investing in mulch will allow you to water your trees less and will help them live longer. Mulch can help retain water in other plants such as bushes and flowers, as well. Also: it looks great! Easy landscaping, really! 

3. Take a Bath (If you Take Long Showers) 

If you are someone that takes long showers, consider taking a bath. Specifically, if you normally take twenty-minute showers, a bath would conserve more water, according to an article by Huffpost. One article from Cleveland Clinic adds that baths improve mental and emotional health, soothe muscle and joint pain, and heal wounds. Further research suggests that adding epsom salts to your bath can better soothe muscle aches. Pooling water instead of letting it run is practical in other situations, such as washing the dishes in a half-sink of soapy water. Think about these the next time you shower or wash dishes: you could save money on the water bill and better the planet! 

4. Fast Fashion: Dangerous for Water Consumption 

You may have heard the term ‘fast fashion’ being passed around environmentalist groups or in local buzz. It’s true: the fashion and textiles industry is a major contributor to water consumption and pollution. A study by the World Wildlife Fund shows that cotton (the main commodity used in textiles) is the second most water-intensive crop on Earth, consuming 7,000-29,000 liters of water per kilogram of cotton produced. Furthermore, Forbes suggests that the industry is a polluter at “all stages of the value chain,” from cottonfield runoff choking rivers with harmful algal blooms to releasing ‘cocktails’ of toxic chemicals, as well as the release of microplastics from washing clothes. Here is how you can help this mess: buy less, buy better quality, and donate or sell old clothes. Never throw away clothing you don’t want. If you must, dispose of old clothes in a textile waste bin. Another way to reduce your clothing waste is to rent, which is a growing business. Fashion is fun, but don’t get in the habit of buying cheap, and if you do, make sure to dispose of your clothes correctly. 

Overall, being conscious about your own water usage is important to making real change in the way people live. It could be the difference in someone else’s quality of life. These are just a few of the many water costs that come with living as a human on our planet! To be more mindful about your own water consumption, do research about trade-offs like these to better serve our wonderful rock in the Universe, and the people and animals who inhabit it. 

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