Advent 1

People on the Frontline of Climate Change need Water

Watch the video of Farazia’s story.

The ground is rock hard but great grandmother Farazia knows she must keep digging.  She needs to get seeds into the ground so she can feed her family.  The little money she gets, comes from selling the bananas she grows on her small plantation.  In all her 78 years she cannot remember so many droughts but they just keep coming and now with five people to feed she tries to ignore her aching limbs.

The work is hard but she loves her grandchildren who remind her of her own children and their parents lost to AIDS.  Every day her prayer is the same.  She wants them all to grow up and have children of their own.  Right now, she wants them to have clean water.

In the south of Uganda where she lives, rainfall is failing.  The waterholes and streams they relied on dry up quickly after the rain so now it is a three to five-kilometre trek to fill up their containers – and the water is polluted and heavily mineralised.  The walk often twice a day means Farazia’s grandchildren miss school and have little time for chores like watering the vegetables on which they depend.  If only she could have a rainwater tank to store the rain when it comes.

Farazia lost her children but also her only grandson who died from the cholera he picked up in the water.  Five years ago, Betty the oldest was raped on the way home from collecting water, later giving birth to Arinda.  Betty now works in the local town saving all the money she can to help her family.

Once a month Farazia attends the association for caregivers of orphans and vulnerable children in her village set up by the Centre for Community Solidarity.  The group has been such a strength to her through difficult times.  She has learnt about the virus that claimed her children, how to make charcoal and to learn new ways to grow food with the changing climate.  When she can, she adds a little money to her savings account – her goal to raise $366 for her half share of a new rainwater tank.

She has seen how much a tank lifts the fortunes of families like hers.  With water on tap, she knows the children will be healthier and safer.  They will have a much better chance of escaping the misery that has accompanied them in these early years.

Once a year, there is a lottery for the two rainwater tanks allocated to one of the 25 village associations. Members choose a slip of paper, but so far, she has not been lucky.  Maybe this year.

Farazia is not the only one without water.  According to the United Nations, one in three people does not have access to safe water.  In this year’s appeal, CWS invites you to focus deeply on the sixth Sustainable Development Goal, Clean Water and Sanitation, one of 17 agreed at the United Nations forming a positive agenda for a better future.

Water is not a luxury but a necessity.  Safe water, sanitation and good hygiene are the basics of life.

“I take this great opportunity on my behalf and fellow members of different groups both who have received tanks and those yet to get, to wholeheartedly thank CWS and all the loving people of New Zealand to have loved, cared and generously supported the people of Isingiro and their needy orphans and vulnerable children whom they don’t know. Although I have not yet constructed a rainwater tank at my homestead to reduce this water burden, I am confident with a hope that the past can tell the future. The consistent CCS and CWS relationship and support in past years builds our courage, confidence and hopes that one day me and others un-served will see tanks constructed full of water ending the painful water crisis.  The contributions to CWS for CCS have done amazing change to our lives and livelihoods and to the children we care for. May God bless New Zealand, CWS and all with generous hearts New Zealanders.”

Regards from Farazia Kyarimpa

Give Water, Give Life.  Donate now to the Christmas Appeal.

Centre for Community Solidarity

With two staff funded by CWS and 12 talented and passionate volunteers, CCS is making life better for people caring for orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV and AIDS.  CCS has organised them into 25 local associations.  With support from our donors, the first phase of the programme from 2008-2012 funded 495 rainwater tanks for 530 caregivers and 1742 children.  In the second phase beginning in 2013, 420 new tanks have been built so far.  Another 268 tanks are needed for members caring for 2321 children.

The local associations at the centre of the programme meet monthly to share their problems and learn new skills.  CCS visits regularly to teach farming techniques to cope with changing weather patterns, train on improved hygiene and sanitation, and educate on HIV and AIDS.  In addition, they supervise the revolving credit fund and rainwater harvesting tank construction.  CWS matches half the cost of a basic tank—the caregiver pays for the rest.  The associations decide who will get the next tank by ballot.  Some contribute additional funds to build larger tanks.  With water on tap families have expanded production and started new businesses to improve household income.

Rainwater tanks are freeing up time and resources so children can attend primary school.  Caregivers cannot afford secondary education so their children are often exploited for cheap labour.  In collaboration with caregivers, CCS has begun a new initiative to give young people new opportunities and respect.

CCS supplies the materials and expertise to make each tank.  The first step is to lay a hard-core base into which a double-layered mesh cylinder is cemented.  On the next day, the women wrap the cylinder with papyrus mats before packing a mix of fine sand and cement between the layers of mesh to form the tank.  After two days the inside cylinder is set and a sand-cement coating is put on the outside.  A final coat of cement is applied to the inside of the cylinder to make a smooth finish.

On the fifth day, a top cover is made in a similar fashion with a metal lid for easy access.  The lower part of the tank is finished in roughcast and a label made including the name of the association, CWS New Zealand, CCS and the date.  A nylon sieve is fitted at the entrance to the tank to block foreign materials.  At the base, an outlet for easy cleaning and the removal of sediment and a padlocked metal door—to stop children from wasting water—are inserted.  Within seven days the tank is ready to receive water from newly installed gutters.

The beneficiary is involved in construction so she learns how to maintain the tank and make simple repairs.  After each dry season, tank owners are advised to disconnect the gutters from the tank and use the first rain to flush dust and bird droppings from the system.

CCS sells low-cost water filters made from local clay mixed with sawdust.  The filters are coated inside with silver nitrate to remove pathogens.  The filter is placed in a plastic bucket with a tap on and filled with water.  The quality of water is regularly tested and has government approval.

Girls and boys who live in these poorest households are up to four times more likely not to attend schools.  In rural areas of Uganda where there is such a water deficit as many as 57% of children do not attend school and the consequences are dire.  Lacking basic literacy skills, these children grow into adulthood without the skills needed to secure sustainable employment. This harsh reality further reinforces the cycle of generational poverty.

Give the Gift of Water, the essence of life.  Support the Christmas Appeal.

Farazia gardens while Arinda watches on. Her son and daughter-in-law are buried under the banana groves.

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