Water for Life

A Social Justice Issue in Ethiopia

Why Water Matters

Think about how many times a day you use water:


  • Brushing your teeth
  • Washing your face
  • Drinking water or other beverages in which water is an ingredient
  • Eating food prepared by boiling water or cooking using the steam that comes off boiling water
  • Washing your hands
  • Flushing the toilet


In Ethiopia and other developing countries around the world, clean drinking water is an abstract concept rather than a readily available resource. This means that diseases such as cholera, guinea worm disease, fluorosis, malaria, and typhoid continue to spread. The chart below provides a breakdown of deaths that directly result from water-related diseases in the developing world. You will see that the slate blue pie slice occupies a significant portion of the chart.

Big image

Why don't these people have access to clean water?

The answer to this question is complicated:


  • One reason for a lack of access to clean drinking water is that, "There is a large threat to Africa's lakes, rivers and wetlands due to things like chemical run-off, pesticide use, and more."
  • Secondly, "Africa shares their freshwater ecosystems with many nations, so if there is a coordination difficulty with a nation, it will be a tough process to try and create a plan. Women in Africa walk miles and miles, more than once a day just to get a bucket of water, which they will then have to use for the majority of their daily tasks. "
  • A third reason is, "Ethiopia,...has a low level of water and sanitation coverage and a low level of hygiene awareness, which creates many health problems."
  • Additionally, "Ethiopia has experienced recurring droughts followed by food shortages and famines. During times of drought, water-related diseases are rampant. Surface water sources such as springs and ponds dry up. Remaining water sources are heavily contaminated by environmental waste, such as human and animal excreta, which is washed in when it does rain. The stagnant water serves as a breeding place for mosquitoes." (source)

What Can We Do?

First, let's look at what the Church is already doing to help address the problem. Organizations such as Catholic Relief Services and the National Council of Catholic Women are already moving in Ethopia - and other countries like it - to bring help to God's children who are in need. The work they've done so far includes, "... a watershed management program that focuses on providing community access to clean water and helping neighboring communities conserve natural resources. Hillside terracing and sustainable land use planning helped to naturally replenish exhausted water supplies. Communities have gained access to more water, which has increased crop production, generated more income and improved overall health."


Through their efforts, we can help change the plight of our Ethopian brothers and sisters from this...

To this...

Lecrae - Dirty Water (Lyric Video)

Okay, but Lecrae said, "How Many of My Friends are African?"

While being aware - raising awareness - of global problems such as lack of access to clean drinking water is important, so is working right here in our own local communities, both to support ongoing efforts to solve the problem, and to serve those in need in our own backyard.


For example, our Knight and Squire newsletter class worked during Lent to raise awareness for those who don't have access to clean drinking water. In addition to making this Smore, students sold water bottles after school (with the website linked via QR code on the label) and then gave all the money raised to Catholic Relief Services.


This allowed students to participate in the global community. A way to extend this endeavor next year might be to encourage families to keep water bottles in their cars for the sole purpose of giving to homeless people they see on the street. Another idea could be to serve at Martha's Kitchen with the school or to research our local homeless population to find out what basic needs they have that aren't being met that could be helped relatively easily if we simply took action.


Working to support global efforts and being kind to one another at home are of equal importance, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,... (Matthew 25:35)"