In Niger, West Africa, death and disease from unsafe water happens every day, not because of the incompetence of their village chiefs, but because they simply lack a source of clean water. The clean water they so desperately need is 250-300 ft underground. But they can’t reach it, not by digging.
The ten poorest countries in the world lie within this region of one of the largest continents on Earth. Seven nations in this area are currently troubled with political and social issues, and have been devastated by harsh climate changes. Niger is the most severely affected of those countries.
Here was the news I received from the National Weather Service: “Excessive Heat Warning remains in effect. Maximum temperatures will reach 102 to 108 degrees in many locations in the valleys of Los Angeles.”
The Sahel region, which includes Niger, is currently in crisis due to a host of interconnected issues affecting the area, including, unstable weather patterns, disease, an inconsistent food supply, along with political unrest and violent conflict. The area has recently been flooded by refugees fleeing from the conflicts in Nigeria and Mali, all while struggling under the continuing threat of the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram.
Recently, several stories have appeared in the press that mentioned charities and their dishonest fundraising efforts. One such story, released by ABC news, reported that a leukemia charity used less than one percent of its donations on its patients or programs.
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.