It’s a short phrase with a sophisticated meaning. It implies that that suffering is necessary in order to achieve something. We use this expression to encourage ourselves to work harder, to lose weight, or to achieve a new goal. We have the luxury of choosing to suffer and sacrifice in pursuit of our dreams, in pursuit of a better future.
Someone who recently found out about our cause posed this question: “What are the politics and priorities of the government of Niger?” It’s an excellent question because many governments in the developing world are corrupt and notoriously guilty of siphoning off aid funds to enrich their own bank accounts. Some, like Nigeria, do little to ensure the safety of their people.
Charity on its own is not a bad thing. However, the problem with the term charity, as it is understood and conceived in the West, is that it often does not work in an international development setting; it does not realize, or address, the structural and physical insecurities underlying poverty in these areas of the world.
Schistosomiasis (SCH) is one neglected tropical disease (NTD) endemic in Niger. SCH ranks second, only to malaria, as the most common parasitic disease and is the most deadly NTD, killing an estimated 280,000 people each year in Africa alone. Worldwide, more than 207 million people are infected, with approximately 85% of all cases found in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The health benefits of securing access to safe water and improved sanitation are well studied and clearly understood; the impact of safe water extends far beyond simply having clean water to drink. The many challenges created by a lack of access resonate through practically all aspects of everyday life and can present difficulties one may not initially consider. In just one example, without safe water and improved sanitation, mothers and their newborns face dangerous circumstances during and after delivery.
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of infectious diseases which disproportionately impact the poorest populations, causing suffering, disfigurement, debilitation and sometimes death. The World Health Organization (WHO) has prioritized 17 of these diseases which are endemic in 149 countries and affect more than 1.4 billion people, or one-sixth of the world’s population.
If the answer is absolutely nothing or what the heck are you talking about, don’t worry. Although 2015 is the last year of the UN’s International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015, their website for World Water Day leaves a lot to be desired. Links take you to the bottom of the page you requested rather than the top, the list of suggested activities for the day is somewhat lacking and the map showing events for World Water Day bizarrely insists that all 13 events in the US are being held in a small corner of Kansas (they are not). Oh, and there is the now obligatory request to use a hashtag on the day. That may be great for awareness, but it is unlikely to give someone access to clean water.
Two-thirds of Niger is covered by vast swathes of the Sahara desert. It’s hydro-climatic and geographic characteristics create difficult conditions for the country’s population of nearly 18 million. Droughts are common, food security issues are endemic, and are further exacerbated by the increasing arrival of refugees fleeing northern Nigeria and northern Mali. These conditions, when coupled with prevalent infectious disease and one of the lowest sanitation coverage rates in the world, leave the West African nation of Niger with some of the highest rates of malnutrition and mortality in the world. Niger, a country roughly twice the size of France, is the poorest country on earth.
in Natal, South Africa,
a woman carries water on her head.
After a year of drought,
when one child in three is at risk of death,
she returns from a distant well,
carrying water on her head.
According to the Water Resources Assessment of Guatemala compiled, US Army Corps of Engineers explains that, “The quality of surface water resources is generally fresh except along the coastal areas of the country. However, based on established biological and chemical standards, every water body in the country should be considered contaminated. In agricultural areas, pesticides are a primary source of contamination. Sewage from Guatemala City has caused the Rio Villalobos, which receives 60 percent of the sewage, and the Rio Las Vacas, which receives the remaining 40 percent of the sewage, to be considered the most contaminated streams in the country.”