The world looks very different in 2020 to how it did even just a year ago. Around the world, people in all countries are facing a struggle unlike anything we have lived through before. As much as we can feel the impact the year is having on our lives, there are many places facing struggles that are even deeper – including Vanuatu and Zimbabwe.
We want to give you an update on what has been happening in these countries over the last 12 months, since the previous Safe Water September challenge.
Last year during Safe Water September, we told you about the communities that had been devastated by the volcanic eruptions on Ambae. Distressingly, this year we have to tell you that many communities are faced with further damage and disruption.
In early April, Tropical Cyclone Harold hit Vanuatu. With wind speeds peaking at over 300km per hour, it was one of the strongest storms ever on record. The cyclone made landfall first on Espiritu Santo and moved across the country to the island of Pentecost. Many communities were devastated – including ones that had only started to rebuild after relocating on Santo from Ambae.
Thankfully, Vanuatu has so far been free of the COVID-19. But because of the worldwide pandemic, travel has become very restricted. The flow of emergency aid in the wake of Cyclone Harold has been impacted, and there is still a great need for projects that will transform communities.
This year Safe Water September will be supporting communities in Vanuatu to rebuild critical infrastructure. Water tanks are necessary for people to be able to store clean water. Guttering on buildings and changes to roofing material are essential for collecting rainwater.
You can make a real difference to people living in Vanuatu. When you take part in Safe Water September, you are helping give safe water to people who desperately need it. You are helping people to rebuild their communities.
In Zimbabwe, many people still don’t have access to safe, clean water close to home. But even those who do, share their boreholes with many other people. In the face of COVID-19 this sharing is now a greater risk.
Many people, especially those living in rural areas, are also facing food shortages. The economy is collapsing and the cost of living is rising rapidly. People still need to work, so they cross borders or travel between communities to survive and the risk grows. Like many countries, the public health response has not been able to meet the need for testing and treatment.
Water is still a critical need. Many people are still walking long distances to access water – and it might not even be safe to drink. In areas suffering water shortages, there have been instances of contaminated water causing sickness, and even death. Without a source of clean water, proper hand-washing and sanitation is not possible, making it hard to avoid transmission of the coronavirus, and diseases like COVID-19.
Safe Water September is continuing to support Showers of Blessings in their work installing bore holes in communities without access to safe water. When you participate in the challenge, donate, or even spread the word, you are helping to make a difference in the lives of people living in Zimbabwe.
The 2020 Safe Water September campaign has already begun! You can sign up to participate and find more information about the challenge online at www.safewaterseptember.org.au
Over the coming months, we will be sharing stories with you from people we know in Vanuatu and Zimbabwe. If you want to see these as they are available, make sure you are following us on Facebook and Instagram.