Water, precious water
The village of Chilungulu celebrates a water system built with the help of ELCA World Hunger.
By Joe and Deborah Troester
“We need water for cooking, for drinking, for washing the children, for vegetables. We can’t grow vegetables without water. So we can’t eat healthy. The people need water. The cows need water. People don’t come to church because they are fetching water. Children don’t go to school, because they are fetching water.” Edda Mbwambo’s frustration is understandable. Edda serves as pastor of Iringa Road Lutheran Parish in central Tanzania where water is very, very precious.
Mzogole is a small village that is part of Edda’s parish. The villagers here do not have adequate water. Scrawny cattle graze on sparse, brown grass. Everything is dry and dusty (see photo at right).
There is an old well with a windmill that was constructed 40 years ago. Unfortunately, the pump has broken repeatedly and can no longer be repaired. The people of Mzogole have resorted to digging holes in the sand of a nearby dry river bed. As the water slowly seeps into the hole, they dip it out to fill buckets and jerry cans, which they carry home balanced on their heads.
Fortunately, their ELCA companion synod, Northwestern Ohio, is raising money to rehabilitate the well and install an electric submersible pump powered by either a generator or solar panels. With this partnership and effort, Mzogole may have water again soon.
Water gives life
The people living in the semi-arid central plains of Tanzania, near the capital, Dodoma, suffer from chronic water shortages. Their average annual rainfall is only about 22 inches, about 85 percent of which falls between December and April. Near the end of the dry season there is no grass, just trees, thorns and scrub brush. Yet in the short rainy season, this area produces corn, sunflowers and sorghum. Many people also have cows, goats and donkeys.
In the village of Mlenga located near Mpwapwa, southeast of Dodoma, the villagers send donkeys about three miles to a river to bring back jerry cans of water. (See photo at right.) Each five-gallon can of water can be sold for 1,000 Tanzanian shillings, or about $0.60. That may not sound like much, but the average person earns less than $2 a day here, according to the World Bank.
St. Peter Lutheran Church in Blackberry, Ohio, in the Northwestern Ohio Synod has spearheaded an effort to raise money to drill a test well for their sister congregation in Mlenga. There is hope that drilling might begin before the end of the year.
A time to celebrate
The village of Chilungulu is a different story. Here they are inaugurating a rehabilitated village water system. ELCA World Hunger provided the money, and the work was done by government water engineers and the villagers.
It was a grand celebration (see top photo), complete with speeches, a brass band and two traditional dance groups. One dance group put on a funny skit pointing out that earlier they did not have water, but now they have food and clean water. One dancer joked, “What next? Peace?”
Thanks to ELCA congregations, synods and ELCA World Hunger, many people in this dry and dusty part of the world may soon be able to have water to drink, water for crops and animals — water that gives life.
Joe and Deborah Troester are ELCA missionaries in Arusha, Tanzania, where they are the East Africa regional representatives. To learn more about supporting ELCA missionaries, visit www.elca.org/globalchurch.