World Water Day. A glimpse of Sant'Egidio's work in Africa to facilitate clean water access in prisons and villages

World Water Day is celebrated on 22 March, an occasion to raise global awareness of the importance of clean water and access to safe drinking water for all.

In Africa, access to clean water is still a crucial challenge. According to a new Unicef analysis, a triple threat of water-related crises is endangering the lives of 190 million children in 10 African countries: inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); related diseases; and climate hazards, particularly in West and Central Africa. Many of the most affected countries, particularly in the Sahel region, are also experiencing instability and armed conflicts, which further aggravate children's access to safe water and sanitation.
Hence, Sant'Egidio in Africa has developed a series of initiatives that focus precisely on water supply for populations suffering from lack of water and food resources due to soil degradation and desertification.
These include:
- structural improvements to prison conditions where inmates are forced into poor and precarious sanitary conditions due to the lack of daily water supply. Here, wells, cisterns, and drinking water supply systems have been built. (read more)
- the creation of gardens in rural communities - promoted by the DREAM Programme in Malawi - where families can grow fresh vegetables and fruit, thus improving their nutrition and health
- nutrition and hygiene education. The Schools of Peace and the Nutrition Centres that the Community runs particularly in Mozambique and Malawi to fight child malnutrition, dedicate special attention to educating on the correct use of water, to prevent infections and illnesses of the digestive system and skin, which are often the result of poor knowledge of basic hygiene and inadequate awareness.