Access to Clean Water Also Provide A Safer Life
Water is essential for life. Our bodies can’t function without it. Dehydration can happen from losing just four percent of total body water and a person can die from losing 15 percent of their body water!
Water also promotes life in numerous other ways. Without it, we couldn’t grow crops or support livestock. Water also has advanced civilization, providing a means for travel for entire parts of the world and a power source for factories. I can exist as a vapor so that it can be stored in the atmosphere delivered as rain across the planet. Earth’s oceans also help regulate the planet’s climate, absorbing heat in the summer and releasing it. And the oceans serve as a home for countless plants and animals. Life cannot be sustained on earth without water, which is why the lack of water is our most significant global crisis.
The people living in East Africa have a first-hand account of what life is like when there’s a water shortage. Life in drought-ridden East Africa is like a real-life horror movie. The skeletal remains of livestock litter the parched landscape. Vegetation is almost non-existent. People who have lost everything to the drought endure long walks that can last for days and include violent encounters. When they arrive at a makeshift settlement for displaced people, they are thrust into a world filled with disease and more violence.
It’s a drastic departure for those who once lived off the land in a society where wealth is determined by the size of a person’s herd and how much they had to share. Now they depend on the government and humanitarian aid organizations for food. It’s a desperate scenario, but not one without hope.
Rainwater Harvesting Tanks Offer Hope
Using interlocking stabilized soil blocks (ISSB)— brick-like earthen blocks used in place of bricks in most construction applications—to construct rainwater tanks offers a sustainable solution to build water infrastructure. A rainwater harvest tank made using the ISB method is stabilized by compression, cementation, and interlocks. The blocks have a high soil-to-cement ratio and are capable of bearing significant loads. Each tank is almost 10 inches thick, has steel wire mesh providing structural strength, and is seated on a reinforced concrete base, approximately a foot deep.
Although simple, this fundamental technology has far-reaching impacts that extend beyond providing a water supply.
- Economic Advantages
ISSB technology is a more affordable way to construct rainwater tanks. A rainwater harvesting tank made with an ISSB hand press is 17 percent less expensive than oven-fired brick water tanks and less expensive than plastic water tanks. The bricks cure at ambient temperatures and are weatherproof so there is no need to plaster the building exterior. Due to its interlocking mechanism, very little cement is needed between block joints and wall construction. Reducing the amount of cement used lowers project costs. Each tank takes around 18 days to build, including brick making and cement curing time, keeping construction labor costs low. The tanks are easy to maintain, and if a crack happens, it can be repaired inexpensively.
- Environmental Advantages
ISSB technology provides an alternative to the commonly used fired brick, which currently is the cause of severe environmental degradation due to deforestation, and the destruction of wetlands. Reducing the number of bricks consumed conserves acres of trees from being cut down and used for a firing process, generating more than 20 percent waste.
- Employment/Educational Advantages
The construction method can increase local skills, creating a skilled labor force that’s an income-generating opportunity for local populations. It is easy to learn and can stimulate educational dialogue regarding environmental issues due to its nature. With the purchase of additional tools, laborers can start building square or round homes, small buildings, ecosan toilet buildings, and other small structures. The addition of basic welding skills enables a laborer to do an entire project, including welded window frames.
- Safety Advantages
Water shortages create an unsafe environment, especially for women, who shoulder the responsibility for water collection. Without access to water nearby, they must walk to the water source, often far away from their homes. It’s not uncommon for them to encounter violence along the way, including sexual violence. The appropriation of rainwater harvest tanks in their communities eliminates the need to collect water and keeps women safe.
- Health Advantages
Access to clean water is crucial for health. A lack of clean water creates poor sanitation environments that lead to water diseases, such as diarrhea or intestinal infections. Rainwater harvest tanks supply water that provides people with adequate sanitation and hygiene, reducing the incidence of diarrhea by as much as 47 percent.
To date, Thirst Relief has built more than 100 rainwater harvest tanks, delivering clean water that keeps people healthy and safe, saves money, and provides employment opportunities. Your support can ensure relief for the biggest global crisis we’re faced with today.