Liberian town mourns children who died from bad water

Kurkai is a town in Liberia where the only safe drinking water for more than a decade was from a well several hours’ walk away.

The round-trip – through isolated and potentially dangerous forests – took so long that by the time the women of Kurkai returned to their homes with water, it was time to start preparing dinner.

The only sources near Kurkai were a hand-dug well that wasn’t deep enough or properly sealed to keep out sewage and other contaminants, and a nearby river whose water was equally unsafe for humans.

When townspeople relied on this well or the river, which they were forced to do when they needed water quickly or when it was too dark to make the long trek to the safe water source, they often paid a painful price – severe stomach cramps and diarrhea.

“The outbreak of water-borne diseases is frequent and has claimed the lives of many children below the age of five,” said a report from our team in Liberia, based on information provided by Kurkai residents.

The report described a community in which people had only two ways to feed themselves – subsistence farming and gathering firewood to partially burn and sell as charcoal.

“We have many children and there is no means to feed them,” lamented local resident Finda Tambah. Most local families are quite large – with seven to 10 children – because parents knew that roughly half of their boys and girls would die from water-borne diseases or other causes before reaching their teens.

Lifewater, with support from our donors, responded to Kurkai’s desperate plight by drilling a 20-metre well that has transformed the community.

Families are much healthier, and with improved health there has been lower child mortality rates and fewer costly visits to medical clinics. Children are attending school more consistently, and mothers and girls who used to spend much of each day carrying water now have time to start income-generating businesses or to attend school. In this way, the well is improving Kurkai’s physical health but also its economic and social health.

“Our worries are finally over,” said Fanta Jalloh, one of the grateful community’s leaders. “Now our children can go to school and live free from the running stomach (diarrhea).”

“Lifewater has done more than enough for us,” added another community leader. “We are so happy.”

Donors have enabled Lifewater to drill several more wells in the region in recent months to ease the hardship of nearby towns. Would you provide safe water in another community in Africa or Haiti that desperately needs your help? Please donate today.

Impact Photo - Bad Well.jpg 76 KB Impact Photo - Good Water  Bucket.jpg 14 KB

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