Mission and Vision

Amman Imman's is dedicated to empowering and preserving Africa's most vulnerable indigenous peoples and engaging school children worldwide as socially conscious leaders.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Water is not an International Issue. It's Global.

Christina Vernon, Operations Support and Development Intern at Amman Imman's Bethesda, Maryland office, contributes this blog post about water for Blog Action Day:

A major water source in Katmandu, Nepal. photo by C. Vernon

Currently I am an MPH candidate in Global Health focusing on Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation. I chose this field based on my main priority of working and living in a low-resource country and serving with community development initiatives whether relating to food and water security issues, social justice, or gender equity.

I first became passionate about water accessibility issues in low-income areas while I was an instructor for Indiana University’s Outdoor Adventure Program. Although I loved going to Red River Gorge, Kentucky to climb, I couldn’t help but notice that we were climbing in one of the most impoverished regions of the Appalachian.  People living there had no running water and were forced to collect water using buckets from a community pump. I was shocked to discover that this issue was not only international, but also just a few hours away from the university I attended.

A Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Lesson in a Bangladeshi Village. photo by C. Vernon
This past spring semester I was afforded the opportunity to study in Bangladesh. While taking classes, I also assessed gaps in the BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Program and designed a project implementation proposal on feminine hygiene issues in secondary schools. The director of BRAC WASH agreed to start implementing the project in one district of Bangladesh, which was exciting for my colleagues and I knowing that BRAC is the largest international development NGO in the world.

Interning with Amman Imman: Water is Life
Children digging in a marsh, Azawak, Niger.  photo by A. Kirtley
After experiencing health and its relation to water in Bangladesh, I really wanted to learn more about water security issues in other regions of the world, particularly Africa. When I heard about Amman Imman, it really excited me because I wanted to be part of an organization that was dealing with water security issues in Africa and working with vulnerable populations.  I hoped to work with a small, grassroots organization so that I could work with a small group of people all combating social injustices.

Amman Imman addresses water security issues in the Azawak region of Niger and Mali, where water accessibility is almost non-existent. Due to climate change, nomadic communities living in the region have been forced to settle, collecting water sometimes from places as far as 30 miles away. Most people, usually young girls, collect water in marshes where rain accumulates. In this region, 1 out of 2 children die before reaching their fifth birthday due to water borne diseases. The rainy season has decreased to about 1-2 months in the past few years, contributing to the scarcity of options for water accessibility. Amman Imman drills boreholes at depths between 600 and 3000 feet in order to reach the aquifer that is in the region, bringing water and a new hope to the surrounding communities. 

Interning with Amman Imman, has opened my eyes to the extreme water crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa and the contextual variables of culture, economics, and social determinants. Amman Imman has helped me gain valuable skills such as advocacy, research, and passion, which are imperative in combating social injustice.

Work where no one else will, Amman Imman: Water is Life

Water and Health:
·      1.8 million people die every year of diarrheal disease
·      4.1% of the total DALY global burden of diseases is attributable to diarrheal disease
·      88% of that burden is attributable to unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WHO, 2010)
·      Improving WASH in schools increases cognitive learning, attendance, and enables girls to stay in school
·      WASH programs in schools creates an anchor for communities to be mobilized

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