Did you know that approximately 71% of our planet’s surface is covered in water? The oceans hold about 96.5% of earth’s water and is found as water vapour, in rivers, lakes, glaciers, and soil moisture. You might say that it’s a resource that the human race is not lacking in, so why then, are human beings placed at risk of death due to water contamination and scarce supplies?
Natural disasters are largely to blame for the negative impact on water quality, particularly in our focus area of Aceh Besar, Indonesia.
In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami led to sea water infiltrating existing wells and severely damaging them. Fresh water, which had been sourced from deeper wells, became hard to come by, and residents of villages in the area of Aceh Besar were forced to drink contaminated river water. People were faced with a devastating choice; risk waterborne diseases that can cause death, or die. It’s a grim reality that we can scarcely imagine. Water and sanitation is an issue that none of us can ignore.
Ugly Diseases, Ugly Reality
Waterborne diseases aren’t to be taken lightly, and when we say they can cause death, this isn’t an exaggeration. In a 2008 study by the Water and Sanitation Program, it was found that around 50,000 premature deaths in Indonesia could be attributed to waterborne diseases. We’re sure you’ve heard of Hepatitis A, Cholera, and Typhoid Fever. The latter alone can have a mortality rate as high as 20% if left untreated. These aren’t diseases that were left in the past, and the risk posed to Indonesian citizens became a very modern problem.
The Deeper Well
As part of efforts in Perumping and Cot Kareung Villages in Aceh Besar, Muslim Aid installed 25 ring wells in a bid to address directly the threat posed by water shortage and diseases through contaminated supply, and more than 800 wells in total. The result is a clean water supply to many, many households. It’s hard to believe that something that seems so simple can be the saving grace for so many. A ring well is constructed by manually excavating a shaft and adding a casing, providing a source of clean water for domestic use. The safety and effectiveness of these wells make them ideal for villages in Indonesia; the challenge ahead lies in the education of proper safety and maintenance of these wells.
You wouldn’t expect your own children, brothers, sisters, or parents to risk their lives by using potentially dangerous water supplies just to survive; so why would we expect anyone else to?