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. 

A Job ‘Well’ Done in Kenya by 28Bold

Providing Dignity Through Hygiene

When we think of our basic hygiene practices, we rarely think of the impact it has on human dignity. For many of us, maintaining personal hygiene is something done mindlessly. The act of brushing teeth or showering is often seen as a chore; nothing more, nothing less. And because many of us are fortunate to have access to clean water to ensure proper hygiene, it’s often taken for granted.

Hygiene’s Relation To Dignity

No one likes going days without cleaning themselves as it makes one feel dirty, tired, and uncomfortable in social situations. Maintaining good personal hygiene is part of maintaining dignity. While the act of cleaning is symbolic for a fresh start, feeling clean provides a sense of self-respect, self-worth, and ultimately gives a sense of dignity.

Human dignity is the recognition that human beings possess a special value intrinsic to their humanity and as such are worthy of respect simply because they are human beings.

The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity, Trinity International University 

Being clean helps provide dignity as it enables people to feel more confident, valued, and worthy of honor. It changes their countenance, the way they carry themselves, and helps them to better engage with others.

Hygiene Around The World

Initially, we tend to think that every person around the globe uses the same hygiene practices as us. This is not true as different countries and societies have their own hygienic practices. However, despite the various perspectives of hygiene practices, its relation to dignity is transcendent around the world. 

In Japan, hygiene practices are rooted in the Shinto religion. While these days, many Japanese don’t consider themselves as religious, the original belief that bathing cleans both the body and spirit has led the Japanese to carefully uphold the practice of cleanliness. Customs such as visiting onsens, hand-washing, and bathing contribute to their cultural identity. It’s doing these practices that make them feel refreshed, self-respected, and dignified. 

In other places such as India, however, hygiene’s relation to dignity results in different practices. Instead of using toilets at home, many people would rather do it openly, far from home, and in secrecy. This is due to the belief that defecation is a shameful act. While many might think that it’s cleaner and safer to use a toilet at home, even if a family had a home toilet, being seen using it causes shame as they consider it a shameful and polluted act. So instead, many decide to go far away from their home to relieve themselves. 

Western countries such as the United States, maintaining hygiene helps maintain dignity. Keeping up with hygiene shows others that you take care of yourself and have self-respect as it often reflects on a person’s status. It also shows that you are worthy of respect, value, and dignity by others.  

Hygiene and Wellness

While the perception of and resources for maintaining good hygiene differ around the world, proven benefits of the practice are widespread. Those benefits include reducing anxiety, increasing productivity and confidence, and ultimately providing a sense of self-worth. 

To begin, showers can help reduce anxiety and promote calmness. Hot temperatures can help relax tense muscles as well as open nasal passages allowing you to breathe better and unwind.

When concerning productivity, studies have shown that spending time showering is “thinking time.” However, putting issues and problems in the back of your mind while focusing on the task of cleaning doesn’t seem productive as it appears to look like procrastination. Nonetheless, studies show that when engaging in mindless activities such as cleaning, your conscious mind takes a break. This helps allow your mind to think other thoughts as well as help find solutions to the initial problem. 

Showering can help boost one’s confidence. According to Wellness Workdays, while showering in general helps boost confidence, morning showers are more beneficia. This is because it sets the tone for the day. The act of being and feeling clean increases levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, happy-hormones. This helps provide a sense of self-worth which helps increase your value in the eyes of others because they see you value yourself

Providing Dignity Through Hygiene

With so much mention of hygiene and dignity, it begs the question, what about those who can’t maintain personal hygiene? 

Unfortunately, the largest group of people in western countries without access to resources to maintain hygiene are the unhoused. Because the majority of the unhoused communities are unable to maintain good personal hygiene, it results in increased anxiety, depression, the decrease of productivity, and decline in confidence. Other effects include feelings of worthlessness which negatively affects social interactions.

Fortunately, there are organizations striving to meet the need for personal hygiene. Our partners at Business Connect are attempting to remedy the lack of supplies by connecting with organizations such as LoveOne in Oregon. LoveOne is a nonprofit organization in Oregon dedicated to helping communities in need of food, clean laundry, and showers. 

There’s a significant difference when folks show up to one of our events. Say they’re dirty, cold, wet, and they get to go take a hot shower… They come out completely different. Their countenance is completely different.… They come out of that shower like different people, they make eye contact, they engage.

LoveOne

Don’t Take It For Granted

Hygiene is often an overlooked or forgotten part of the water space. But it is key to improving the quality of life for many around the world. If you are fortunate enough to have easy access to clean water, we encourage you to not take it for granted.

In addition, if you know an organization or homeless community in need of hygiene products, we ask you to consider reaching out to our partners at Business Connect

If you share a heart for clean water for all life, we invite you to connect with us and follow our social media. Lastly, we encourage you to help educate those in your community about the importance of clean and accessible water!

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.

Clean Water & Mental Health

Clean Water & Mental Health

Anyone who’s consumed bad food has experienced unfortunate and miserable outcomes. It’s a lesson learned that putting bad substances in your body results in bodily harm. Same goes with water. Studies show that the human body is 70% water—that’s a lot of water! Fortunately for us, we need it as it’s the fuel that makes everything run as it should, including our brains. Like bad food, bad water can cause issues that affect mental health.

I remember growing up traveling the world; mother would always tell me whether or not I could drink the water. I never understood this, wasn’t water, water? Of course I understood that when water didn’t run clear, it meant that it wasn’t drinkable, or rather, consumable. But there were places where the water ran clear and my mother told me not to drink it. 

It wasn’t until years later in a chemistry class that I fully comprehended why being careful about water, no matter its transparency, mattered.

Contaminators & Effects

“Get out your periodic tables,” my teacher said. “We must look at contaminators to understand why drinking contaminated water is bad for mental health.” 

One by one he listed different elements—“Inorganic arsenic, PCE (organic solvent tetrachloroethylene), lead, mercury…”—before diving into their negative effects.

“All of these things,” he continued, “affect our mental wellbeing. They can cause depression, a deep sadness that steals joy and interests away. A result can be anxiety. Anxiety is when someone is constantly worried. Another is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD. Symptoms are triggers, usually sense-induced, that brought back to painful memories. Some people even experience bipolar disorder. This disorder causes intense mood swings that range from depression to a manic state.” 

As I sat in my chair taking notes, it occurred to me how important drinking clean water is not only for your body but your mind. 

Mental Health’s Effect On The Brain

Mental illnesses, as many of us know, causes a wide range of problems. Some effects include severe emotional, behavioral, and physical issues including brain damage.  

According to Stone Ridge, when anxiety disorder is left untreated: 

The brain doesn't return to a sense of normalcy when the stress, threat, or danger is gone. Instead, anxiety disorders can trigger your brain's fight or flight mode even when there's no perceived danger. 

This can lead to becoming hypoactive to non-existent threats that over time, make it hard for the brain to reason rationally. 

Depression can lead to brain shrinkage and inflammation. When the brain shrinks, memory loss, stress, rational thinking, emotions, and an irregular sleep pattern can occur. And when brain inflammation occurs, it can lead to severe symptoms and chronic issues such as confusion, seizures, speech or hearing problems, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The effects of bi-polar disorder, however, can reduce the amount of gray matter in the brain. Gray matter helps process information such as thoughts and feelings, controls impulses, and helps with motor skills. 


When concerning Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to a Very Well Mind, can cause damage to the amygdala. This area assesses threats, the formation of emotional memories, and memories. It also affects the prefrontal cortex that is responsible for emotional regulation, decision making, and regulating attention. Other effects of this disorder result in the damage of the mid-anterior cingulate cortex that regulates emotions, registering physical pain, and autonomic functions.

Perception of Mental Health


After my new found knowledge on clean water’s benefits for mental health, I thought everyone should drink clean water. Who doesn’t want good mental health? But then I realized that many countries and cultures, however, perceive mental health differently. For instance, in the western world, it is more acceptable to talk about mental health. But in other places, it’s still considered to be stigmatized, shameful, and wrong. This could be the result of a lack of awareness and mental health professionals. In many areas, religious beliefs are what fills in the holes for science.

Clean Water Is No Where

Another misconception I believed when I was younger was that clear water meant clean. I also believed that developing countries faced water contamination and the water crisis. I was wrong. Technologically advance counties also struggle with these issues.

More than 30 million Americans lived in areas where water systems violated safety rules at the beginning of last year, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency. Others simply cannot afford to keep water flowing. As with basically all environmental and climate issues, poor people and minority communities are hit the hardest

Time, 2020

The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis is the perfect current-event example of the clean water crisis in the United States. During 2014 to 2019, the city of Flint faced a clean water crisis that its residents without clean water. As read in the Detroit Free Press, while the crisis has ended, the contaminated water and crisis itself contributes to the decline of the residents’ mental health. 


But the issue doesn’t stop at Flint. In 2020, Vox covered how the COVD-19 pandemic highlighted water contamination and crisis in the U.S. The news website writes of the multiple rejected claims for clean water as bottled water was being bought out everywhere. This event, I learned, left thousands of people in a water crisis.

What We Can Do

If you’re like me who can get overwhelmed by thinking about the mental health and the water crisis, fortunately there are things we can do. 

1.) First and foremost is to educate ourselves and others around us on contaminated water’s effect on mental health. I strongly believe that in order to find a solution, identifying the problem is crucial. 

2.) Invest in a water purifying product to help ensure safe drinking water for our mental health. Our partners at Business Connect offer various water treatment and filter systems to ensure safer drinking water. 

3.) Be an advocate for those without safe drinking water. Whether it be for a far off community in a developing nation or in your own community, adding to the noise to demand for basic human rights helps make the voiceless heard.

Our Earth Day Focus: Water Scarcity

Our Earth Day Focus: Water Scarcity

Earth Day reminds some of us making a chocolate layered dirt and worms dessert in school as children. Some are reminded of the phrase, “Ok, Boomer,” echoing in their ear. And for others, memories of the very first Earth Day come flooding back. Whatever the memory the annual day brings, it’s a reminder of our responsibility to create a sustainable life and future. 

On Earth Day, many organizations and companies make their voice known about one particular environmental issue that is close to their heart. Some might be deforestation, climate change, or the genocide of animal species. At Connect For Water, our Earth Day Focus is what we know best: water. Because our company ethos is to fight the water crisis, we thought it appropriate for our Earth Day focus to be on water scarcity. But before we dive right in, we must define what it is -what is water scarcity?

Water Scarcity is the lack of sufficient available water resources to meet the demands of water usage within a region.

Science Daily

Water Scarcity can mean scarcity in availability due to physical shortage, or scarcity in access due to the failure of institutions to ensure a regular supply or due to a lack of adequate infrastructure.

The United Nations

To put it simply, it means that mankind is using up more water than the earth has time to give. 

Different Numbers, Same Problem

Before we go any further, we recognize that there are different ways to calculate water scarcity. However, understanding that the problem remains the same is crucial. 

It’s ironic that the earth is facing a water scarcity with 71% of its surface area being in water. It makes the nickname “Blue Planet” appropriate.  The unfortunate truth, however, is that while only 3% of that water is fresh and consumable, less than 0.5% of consumable water is accessible.

So what does 0.5% look like? If measured in galons, the earth has 326 trillions gallons of water. 3% of that is 9.7 trillion gallons, 0.5% is 1.6 trillion gallons, and according to the Bureau of Reclamation, that equates to 2.2 million gallons for each person. 

Humanity’s Water Consumption

At first glance, 8.5 million liters (2.2 million gallons) for each person on earth doesn’t seem to be too much, but when you add up the water usage of each person, things get a little tricky. Human water usage goes beyond drinking water, showering, and flushing the toilet – it involves productions and infrastructures with agriculture at the top of the list. High Tide Technologies states that on average:

Farms around the world account for 70% of all water that is consumed annually. Of that 70% used by farmers, 40% is lost to the environment due to poor irrigation systems, evaporation, and overall poor water management. 

That’s a lot of water and unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. The garment and textile industry takes second place using 79 billion cubic meters of water per year to produce garments and textiles. The list continues with meat production in third place, the beverage industry in fourth, and automotive manufacturing in fifth. 

Global Warming’s Effect On The Water Cycle & Water Scarcity

Unfortunately, another reason for water scarcity is global warming with its effect on the water cycle. The water cycle, as we all have learned, is essential to life on earth. It affects our weather, ecosystem, water levels, and much more. But due to higher temperatures, massive deforestation, and pollutants, the cycle is changing for the worse, in a way that will greatly affect our water supply. 

The Water Cycle As We Know It

Step 1: Evaporation
Water evaporates from bodies of water such as the ocean, sea, lakes, and rivers. Transpiration, which is when water evaporates from trees and other vegetation, also happens during this stage.

Step 2: Condensation
Evaporated water turns into water vapor that rises up into the atmosphere and its particles condense together to form clouds. It then changes into the form of ice before falling in the form of rain or snow.

Step 3: Precipitation
Rain comes down due to temperature change, and if the temperature is below 0 degrees, the rain becomes snow. In some instances, it comes down as sleet or hail.

Step 4: Surface Runoff
As water pours down in either rain or melted snow, the liquid covers the surface of the earth, filling bodies of water and hydrating vegetation.

Step 5: Infiltration
The leftover water infiltrates deep below the topsoil, filling aquifers that help replenish different bodies of water. It is the top soil that allows for the moisture to be trapped. This water is drinkable and is considered to be the earth’s backup water supply.

What Is To Come

Step 1: Evaporation
Due to higher temperatures, evaporation quickens, adding moisture to the air which sucks up water from bodies of water and vegetation even faster.

Step 2: Condensation
The evaporated water rises into the atmosphere and its particles condense together to form clouds. Due to temperature and wind changes, condensation will be heavy in some places and lighter (and sometimes next to none) in others.

Step 3: Precipitation
Because of the change air in temperatures, the areas where precipitation will occur will be drastic, leaving some areas too wet and others too dry. When precipitation occurs, heavier and warmer rain will increase as well as heavier snow falls.

Step 4: Surface Runoff
Because the water will be warmer, heavier runoffs will be experienced causing landslides that, aside from too much rain, will destroy crops, animals, and infrastructure. Topsoil will also be stripped away. The runoff will carry pollutants that will contaminate bodies of water including humanity’s drinking water. The temperatures of oceans, lakes, and rivers will increase resulting in an overgrowth of algae that will suffocate fish and destroy marine ecosystems. The ocean will increase in acidity causing major changes in ocean currents that can alter weather patterns across the globe.

Step 5: Infiltration
Because topsoil will be stripped away, the ground will not be able to retain moisture for vegetation, and the aquifers will no longer be able to hold water to help replenish bodies of water. This will lead to droughts. We are then left with a cycle of flooding and drought. Every time it floods, more soil will be stripped away, causing evaporation to quicken each time, leaving the ground worse than before.

Consequences of Water Scarcity

Consequences of water scarcity are as vast as they are disastrous.

We know that water scarcity combined with climate change results in a disastrous cycle of extreme drought and downpour. It can also result in severe weather changes such as heat waves,wildfires, hurricanes, and tornados. 

However, the consequences of water scarcity itself can result in much, much more. The lack of drinking water is obvious. As a result, a drastic change in the economy follows suit as prices in water and food increase. This will cause third world countries to suffer first. Poverty and hunger will also increase at an alarming rate. There will be destruction of habitats as well as mass migration, forcing everyone to move to a water supply. Other issues consist of sanitation issues and the spread of disease. The United Nations International Children’s emergency Fund (UNICEF) states that “When water is scarce, sewage systems can fail and the threat of contracting disease like cholera surges. Scare water also becomes more expensive.” 

Living in an inhabitable world is worst case scenario.

Be The Solution

Luckly, we have a chance to stop water scarcity before it’s too late, but we must act quickly. 

First and foremost, we must educate ourselves and those around us on water scarcity. We must know its causes and effects to understand how to fix it. We then must change our lifestyles to become water conservationists – doing everything in our ability to conserve water. One of our authors, Julia Hall, wrote an article titled article titled 4 Hidden Ways to Conserve Water. There, among other sources, people can get conservation ideas. Other solutions include being innovative and part of teams that create new conservation technologies, being vocal in community organizations and political powers.

If you want to learn more about water conservation, we encourage you to follow us on our social media sites and stay informed by signing up for our newsletter!

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

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