For this month's CONNECTION:
Located in the southern region of Zambia, the people who live in the Chirundu district once suffered from a severe water crisis.
Every day, 62,000 women, men, and children endured a lack of clean water, healthy hygiene habits, and safe sanitation. Studies show that 75 percent of people lacked access to a safe drinking water source and over 50 percent did not have access to proper sanitation facilities like clean latrines. Without proper infrastructure for waste, many communities practiced open defecation which caused disease to spread.
Countless time was stolen from women and girls due to walking for water that would only make them sick. Deadly water-borne diseases impacted the health of families and took lives. Chirundu also experienced tragic deaths from people being attacked by crocodiles as they collected water from the nearby Zambezi River.
Living Water International Zambia knew that the people of Chirundu were in dire need of a long-term response plan to combat the desperate WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) needs and to bring the healing that only Jesus can provide to hurting communities.
In 2013, Living Water Zambia launched its first WASH Program Area (WPA) in the Chirundu district with a multi-year plan to implement water, sanitation and hygiene, and church mobilization activities using our innovative programmatic model.
The Zambia team had already begun the building blocks for establishing long-term relationships with community leaders and government agencies whose partnerships are critical to achieving sustainable change over time.
At the start of the Chirundu WPA, Living Water’s field experts were determined to bring safe water to 85 percent of the households who reside in the district. We envisioned a future where each person would have access to at least 20 liters of safe water per day.
Because of long-standing traditions that were ingrained into society, open defecation was a common practice. For any effective change to occur with community health, safer sanitation outlets, like latrines, would need to be constructed and leaders would need to play an active role in altering community member’s behaviors.
As with any of our programs, Living Water Zambia planned to reach the people of Chirundu with the gospel by both demonstrating God’s love through our work, but also through connecting church leaders in the region to build a more united faith community. Pastors and local community leaders would soon become advocates of improved WASH practices and agents of positive change for further community development.
Over time, Living Water saw incredible results in transforming the region through WASH interventions and church mobilization activities.
Programs were implemented in the Chirundu, Zambia WPA for six years. The results confirmed our initial research plans that the WPA model is the most effective way to create sustainable development.
Exceeding our goals at the start of the WPA, the Zambia team developed 209 new water sources and rehabilitated 180 broken, non-Living Water systems*. Because of these programs, we saw households using an improved water source had increased to 96 percent, well above the target goal of 85 percent.
Even with the tradition of practicing open defecation, the Chirundu WPA saw an increase in households with access to a sanitation facility. Households using a clean latrine increased from 56 percent to 88 percent. New behaviors such as safely storing water after it’s collected, increased from 54 percent to 70 percent.
During our time, Living Water hosted 57 church engagement sessions* and 240 meetings for church leaders. 428 biblical teachings were shared at celebration events for newly constructed water points, reaching 40,000 people with the gospel of Jesus Christ!
*Water and church pins are representative of 10-15 locations. Map locations are not exact coordinates.
Before the Chirundu WPA was launched in Zambia, girls like Mercy walked every day to the banks of the Zambezi River to collect dirty water. Mercy’s story is a powerful testimony to the countless dangers that are alleviated when safe water is easily accessible.
Read the scripture passage, pray, and reflect on the CONNECTION on your own or with a group.
READ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV
PRAY: As we follow your mandate to bring heaven on earth, help us to understand the great earthly needs that so many of your people have. Burden our hearts, Lord, to the desperate needs that are being cried out for – thirst, hunger, poverty – so many injustices. Give us the passion to unite as one Body of Christ to transform nations who are physically suffering through safe water and better health. Help us to see that when work as one, rooted in your love, we will also be transformed spiritually by our collective mission.
- Living Water worked in the Chirundu region for six years, transforming the lives of tens of thousands of people. Reflect on where you were in your life six years ago.Give thanks to the person you were then.
- Reflect on your hardest moment from the last six years. How did God prepare you for that moment?
- Reflect on your most joyful moment from the last six years. What joys have you been able to pass on to others since then?
- Give thanks to the person you are now. You would not be here today without six years of transformation – in ways both big and small.
- The WASH Program Area model brings positive change that’s sustainable because of the relationships of local Living Water partners, strategic planning in a focused area, and the length of time in which we spend there.
- What areas of your life can you bring positive change to by focusing on your relationships and long-term planning?
- Commit yourself to making a positive change in someone else’s life as well – a family member, friend, or a woman, man, or child who thirsts for safe drinking water.
WASH Program Areas: Part 1
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