Africa: Water for Life

Sudan: Girls carrying jerry cans
A group of girls in Sudan carry water for their family. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance

Globally, 1.1 billion people worldwide lack clean water.  Some 300 million live in Africa – over one third of the continent’s population.  An estimated 90% live in arid, semi-arid or dry humid areas.

CWS improves the availability and accessibility of water in the communities with which we work, particularly in Kenya.

Water for Life

The CWS "Water for Life" program helps communities realize and utilize the available resources, strengthening their capacity through the construction of water and sanitation systems as well as training and other leadership development activities.

CWS's approach is rooted in four main principles.

Multiple Sources: Diverse water sources - which may include water pans, sand dams, shallow wells, rock catchment or simple techniques such as roof rain harvesting - help ensure that communities do not overuse a single water source.

Community Ownership and Management: CWS knows that marginalized communities must be involved in the development process in order to become empowered.  This includes all stages of water project identification, design, and implementation. Upon project completion, community members are trained to assume water management responsibilities, ensuring that access to water is in the hands of the people themselves. Community ownership and management is critical if water projects are to be sustained long after CWS’s involvement.

Stewardship of the Environment: The human destruction of ecosystems places a tremendous strain on water supplies and will have long-term effects on future water access. In order to help protect the environment, CWS integrates traditional water development with environmental education and land/water use management.

Advocacy: In 2006, CWS implementing partners involved in water projects in Kenya came together to form the Water for All Kenya Network to speak with a united voice as it raises concerns to government policy makers about the water needs of Kenya. CWS regards water as a public good, not just a resource for the few who can afford to pay for it. This means working to prevent policies – such as trade rules that encourage inappropriate privatization and commercialization of services – that narrow the range of available water options.