Living well: Clean water for Africa

OVER 1 BILLION people worldwide live without access to safe drinking water. SAWSO has initiated a new campaign entitled Living Well to address the water crisis.

“When the poor and needy seek water and there is none, and their tongue parched with thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.” Isaiah 41:17

While Americans spend billions on bottled water every year—when tap water in the U.S. is perfectly safe—over 1 billion people worldwide live without access to safe drinking water. As the trend of purchasing bottled water continues to grow in the U.S., so does the global water crisis continue to worsen, with projections that by the year 2025, 3.5 billion people will be living with unsafe water.

Today, one child dies every 15 seconds from diseases resulting from the lack of safe water. Total deaths due to water-related problems exceed 5 million annually. In the past 100 years, the world’s population has tripled and the human demand for water has increased seven-fold. The signs of the impending water crisis are especially evident throughout Africa where unsafe drinking water has a devastating impact on entire cultures, including health, human rights, the environment, the economy, welfare and politics. Furthermore, the issues related to water directly correlate to poverty.

The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO), with extensive experience in international development, has initiated a new campaign, entitled Living Well to address the water crisis in targeted areas of Africa. SAWSO’s goal is to provide clean water throughout the countries of East Africa and across the continent, where they partner in helping to establish sustainable community development initiatives. SAWSO wishes to develop over 20 community wells in nine targeted countries on the African continent: Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa. Each new project will incorporate a community-based approach into the well assessments, well designs, digging of wells, use of drill-teams and processes for equipment installation.

Matthew Smith, SAWSO’s food security project officer, has spent time in Angola working specifically on an emergency water program. The project is designed to supply 25,000 returning internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Moxico Province with water over a six-month period. The Salvation Army (TSA)/Angola will also provide training in water and sanitation to improve health conditions. This community-based initiative will develop water storage and sanitation facilities using local labor and materials.

Smith said of SAWSO’s Living Well project, “These IDPs are returning to their communities after 30 years of civil war, often to little or nothing on the ground. A typical water source in these returnee communities consists of an unprotected hole in the ground.”

The Living Well project follows SAWSO’s vision, which is “to create a world where people live in safe and sustainable communities in which differences are respected, basic needs are met, and all enjoy opportunities to learn, work and worship in freedom.” The overall aim of Living Well is to raise awareness, find necessary sponsors for the project(s) and increase community attention in the U.S. to ensure the provision of this basic human right (clean water) to thousands of people.

As awareness increases within the public and among Salvationists and friends, there often develops a keen interest to sponsor projects such as Living Well. Christians often become compelled to challenge themselves and/or encourage others to give the money spent on bottled water and other nonessentials in their lives to provide the desperately needed clean and safe water, which is essential for the people of Africa. Interested individuals and groups may be provided an opportunity to connect with a particular geographic area where clean water is required.

SAWSO encourages people to consider sponsoring gifts in multiples ranging from $16, which is the cost to provide safe and clean water for one family in an African village (average derived from six completed projects in the year 2002), to $2,000, which is the average cost to dig one well with clean and safe sustainable water for a village in Africa.

For more information or to learn how to sponsor clean water for an African family or an African village, contact Major Harden White c/o SAWSO, 615 Slaters Lane, Alexandria, VA 22314; telephone (703) 684-5528; FAX (703) 684-5536; e-mail

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