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The Gift of Water

  • March 21, 2007

Today, more than one billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water; many of them resort to unsafe or unsanitary water sources for their basic, everyday needs, such as drinking, cooking and bathing. Each year, more than 2.2 million people, most of them in developing countries, die from diseases associated with poor water and sanitary conditions.

In observance of this week’s World Day for Water—commemorated March 22—AmeriCares celebrates two water “success stories” from Indonesia.

By the end of this month, more than 2,000 people will be benefiting from a collaborative effort between AmeriCares and Islamic Relief that is bringing water to two communities, Kadju Indah and Monsinget, in the Aceh Besar area.  Both communities were washed away by the December 2004 tsunami.  After two years of living in temporary shelter and drinking water supplied by tanker trucks, survivors of the disaster are moving back to their community and clean water is flowing directly into their homes.
As of February, 154 houses built by Islamic Relief are occupied and being supplied by the AmeriCares-funded water system.   Another 256 houses are scheduled for handover to local residents later this month.  The AmeriCares-Islamic Relief partnership included the rehabilitation of existing deep wells; the construction of a water tank capable of holding 18,000 gallons of water; the installation of pumps and an electrical generator; and the laying of nearly one mile of underground pipe.

“It is truly amazing to witness the rebirth of two communities where such a short while ago there was absolute and total destruction,” said David Prettyman, the AmeriCares Country Director for Indonesia.  “AmeriCares is lucky to have an excellent implementing partner in Islamic Relief without which this achievement would not have been possible.”
This project is just one of many AmeriCares efforts to provide safe drinking water in the areas hardest hit by the tsunami.  Last year, AmeriCares partnered in Aceh with Project Concern International (PCI), to bring clean water to the sub-district of Lhoong.  With AmeriCares’ support, PCI constructed four piped water systems that are now serving a total of 4,822 people.

Local resident Pak Tarmidji lives in one community that benefited from that project.  He notes that prior to the project, the availability of clean water for drinking and washing purposes was always a problem, even before the tsunami.  Appointed by his fellow villagers to be the local head of the PCI/AmeriCares Clean Water Infrastructure Project, Pak Tarmidji is very enthusiastic about the changes this new endeavor has made in his community.

“I have been involved in many activities with PCI and AmeriCares,” Pak Tarmidji says, “and I am thankful for that, especially for the clean water, which has long been a dream for me and my neighbors.”