Churches United for Clean Water
In rural Rwanda, clean water is scare, but water sources are plentiful. There is water in the rivers, swamps, and lakes that fill the landscape. And rain falls from the sky in abundance during the two rainy seasons. In fact, each year, Rwanda records an average of 45 inches of rain. In comparison, Michigan, where 20 Liters is headquartered, has an average of 31 inches of rain annually.
The abundance of rain water is one reason that 20 Liters employs Rain Water Harvesting Systems as a community solution to make dirty water clean.
For our typical Rain Water Harvest System, a good 5-minute downpour is enough to fill a 10,000 liter cistern with water. And by capturing the rain, we reap the benefit of collecting water at one of the cleanest phases of the water cycle.
But, that’s not all that can be accomplished by building Rain Water Harvest Systems. The impact that churches united for clean water can have in rural communities doesn’t stop with water.
The primary water source for the residents of Gatoro Village is a nearby swamp. The swamp water is full of sediment, contaminated with bacteria. It is dangerous to drink unless it has been boiled or treated before use. In addition, the swamp is not close to people’s homes. Many families hire men to fetch the dangerous water for them, at the cost of 200 Rwandan francs per jerrycan. Most families will use at least 5 jerry cans of water each day. For families living on less than $2 a day, this amount is nearly half of their income.
In 2014, the Church Network Committee for the Ntarama sector selected the Anglican Church in Gatoro Village to receive a Rain Water Harvest System. The system now serves 60 families who live directly in Gatoro. And, it is also accessible to another 430 families in surrounding villages. Frederic, the Lay Administrator at the church, loves to talk about what the church has accomplished since the system was built.
There was one clear priority when setting the price for the water collected in the Rain Water Harvest tank. Clean water would be available from the church at no charge for vulnerable families.
Then, they wanted to make clean water more available and more affordable to everyone in the community. For families who can afford it, they pay 50 Rwandan francs for a jerry can of clean water. Businesses who wish to use the water can purchase the water for 100 Rwandan francs.
Using this model, the church quickly was able to raise funds to improve the church building. These improvements included adding a baptismal pool that could be used by all of the surrounding churches. [Side note: without the pool, baptisms would take place in the swamp. Swamp water that is filled with bacteria and crocodiles.] This shared baptismal pool has further united churches with shared purpose.
As a result of these relationships, area churches have continued to find new projects to work on together to serve the wider community. The Anglican Church was also selected as the site to prepare food that is provided by local churches for sick people in the nearby hospital.
Beyond the Rain Water Harvest System at their church, Frederic has seen the impact of SAM3 Household Filters in the surrounding areas. He sees these household solutions as a complement to the Rain Water Harvest Systems, providing health and economic benefits throughout the community.