World Water Day puts focus on groundwater
World Water Day is tomorrow, March 22, and this year’s theme is ‘Groundwater - making the invisible visible’.
World Water Day is an annual United Nations observance, started in 1993, that celebrates water and raises awareness of the two billion people currently living without access to safe water.
Groundwater is water found underground in aquifers, which are geological formations of rocks, sands and gravels that can hold water.
“Groundwater is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere. Out of sight, under our feet, groundwater is a hidden treasure that enriches our lives. Almost all of the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater. As climate change gets worse, groundwater will become more and more critical. We need to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource. Groundwater may be out of sight, but it must not be out of mind,” states the UN water organisation.
Gibraltar’s residents are no stranger to the importance of groundwater, with a sustained campaign run by Jimmy Bruzon from Action 4 Schools regularly highlighting the positive impact the locally-funded wells have in villages in Sierra Leone.
Recently Action4Schools partnered up with WellFound in an agreement that will mean more wells can be created for the same money.
Dr Antony Kingsley, the CEO of WellFound, spoke to the Chronicle about the impact a well can have on a community following a recent visit where he saw where well number 80 will be located.
“We have been working with Action4Schools for the past three years and we have worked on over ten wells so far and recently five. Most of the villages I see are being supported by Action4Schools and it is fantastic to see children enjoying the water, staying at the school instead of spending time fetching water and so on,” he said.
“Especially for girls, having water near to school means they can now use the toilets and it means they do not have to go in the bushes and that is huge in terms of privacy, health and other benefits.”
“But, also for children the fact they no longer have to fetch water from the nearest stream and take it back to their homes is a positive outcome from having the well near their schools.”
When he was there, he spoke to the children, the teachers and some parents, with the adults noting they have all seen a significant change in the children’s education and health.
He also noted that now the children have water, their focus has changed and they are seeking better school desks or benches, more books and other items that will aid their education.
“Their focus has changed from carrying water to something else, which is a nice thing,” he said.
“Also, they want to run a little market garden behind the school, where they have already started to clear the land, so they can grow some vegetables and take some home and also to have some lunch in the next harvest time. All because of having that water.”
Water enhances life in various ways he said and that is why WellFound loves the partnership that it has with Action4Schools.
“Action4Schools provides the funding for the wells and our staff stay in the villages or near to the project sites and train them to enhance the opportunity that has been given,” said Dr Kingsley.
“We have an agricultural worker close by who can teach how to grow vegetables and looking after them and also the health workers talk about safe hygiene and practices.”
“That is a number of elements that branches out from water and that is fantastic to see.”
Some of the villages where wells are located have now become aware that World Water Day exists.
“And, this year some of the villages and schools are planning to do a little football tournament to celebrate water and to shows thanks for what they have achieved over the time,” he said.
“It is quite special.”
“When I was there and speaking to people they were so happy. And they wanted to celebrate by having a football tournament as that brings all the communities together. And, also it brings the collective happiness of what has being happening in that part of the world and I am sure that energy will spread,” he added.
Dr Kingsley is very grateful for the financial support the people of Gibraltar show Action4Schools and he thanked them for that. But, in addition, he would like people to appreciate what they have.
“The first thing I always say is appreciate what we have and also when possible to share those opportunities and to provide what we have in our vicinity to someone else in a remote place which would definitely change lives for forever,” he said.
“So, to be more aware and to be more aware of the little things we do making a bigger change in someone’s life is an amazing thing.”
“Try and support where possible.”
For more information go to www.action4schools.gi
And donations to Action 4 Schools can be made via
NatWest Bank, GIBRALTAR
Account 48084352 – Sort Code 60-60-60