By Laurie Perolio-Bullinger
The global coronavirus pandemic had a devastating impact not only on the South African healthcare system, but also on its infrastructure growth during 2020. Despite these challenges, Franklin Wells for the World Foundation (FWWF) was able to accomplish the goal of providing access to clean, safe, and sustainable water and sanitation solutions within the remote communities of Sutherland in South Africa, Chikuluma, Malawi, and in Mongu, Zambia. This region has continued to experience an increase in fluctuating climate conditions including floods and droughts–intensifying the limited access to safe water, wiping out crops and crippling much of its food production.
The Gift of the Givers Foundation (GOGF) is the largest disaster response non-governmental organization of Africa. Founded by medical doctor Imtiaz Sooliman, the Foundation has earned a solid reputation for its outstanding aid assistance in providing food, water and other essentials to those in need, as well as providing medical care and establishing infrastructures to enable self-sufficiency. Dr. Sooliman reached out to FWWF with an urgent need for Sutherland’s Eastern Cape, where communities had run out of drinking water when their springs had dried out. This not only affected the population of 65,000, but also the 30,000 sheep still left from the 430,000 seven years ago, which were desperately needed to support their livelihood.
Understanding the burden and immediate needs, FWWF donated 100 solar water pump kits including all ancillary equipment and installation assistance to bring water access to these communities with the hope that this small token would aide in empowering the communities to accommodate and care for themselves in a sustainable manner.
“The people of Sutherland’s Central Karoo area have experienced severe drought for over seven years,” states Attie Jonker, vice pesident, Commercial Group, South Africa at Franklin Electric. “The opportunity to partner with GOGF in giving water and some relief to those who have been gravely affected by the drought is gratifying for our organization. As we continue our mission of bringing clean water to the people in these communities, we are committed to restoring hope for the next generations.”
Doctors for Life International (DFL) has been providing health services to the people of Malawi since 2010 through its Aid for Africa initiative. Much of the population suffers from eye diseases such as trachoma, a disease which commonly occurs in areas where there is a lack of sanitation and clean water that causes corneal scarring and eventually leads to complete blindness. DFL discovered the need for a medical facility in Chikuluma, a remote village consumed by a high percentage of blind individuals and orphans who have lost their parents due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. For this reason, the need for clean water and irrigation became a critical priority.
In partnership with DFL, FWWF proposed its well drilling expertise and proficient product offerings to bring a sustainable solution to the water scarcity problem in Chikuluma. The solution consisted of solar pumping systems which provide an operationally, financially and environmentally friendly means of ensuring reliable water access with minimal maintenance needed. Through these efforts, the community now has a medical clinic for permanent assistance. The villagers have seen significant health advancements due to clean drinking water and improvements in sanitation and hygiene, while they are now able to maintain agricultural activities through improved irrigation.
“Being able to provide the Chikuluma community with clean water access has been rewarding as we see the people and community thriving through these efforts,” Jonker comments. “Restoring dignity to the people of the Chikuluma community while aiding to alleviate the governmental constraints and hardships they face on a daily basis brings much joy. Through safe water and sanitation, they can now attain immense health and societal benefits.”
For the people of Western Zambia like the rest of Africa, waterborne illnesses are a major contributory factor to death, with 3 out of 5 children dying before their fifth birthday. Without clean, safe drinking water, the people are plagued with diseases, dehydration and premature death. On a daily basis, many of the mothers are forced to make a choice to watch their children die of dehydration or give them water that is polluted and full of deadly bacteria. During dry months, many women and children are forced to walk up to four hours to access unclean water. Not only is this physically stressful, but often times the children are unable to attend school due to this.
FWFW joined forces with the Zambia Project in its initiative in the community of Mongu to bring water access to its main base in support of a school hosting 660 children, an orphanage housing 60 children, medical clinic caring for over 1500 patients and its 15 missionary workers. The compound’s original water pumps had been severely damaged due to load shedding and lightening while the smaller replacement pumps were not equipped to handle the demand. To restore the compound’s water infrastructure in a reliable and cost-effective manner, FWFW replaced the malfunctioning equipment with sustainable solar pumps. By using solar energy, they were able to utilize Africa’s most accessible resource: the sun. This solution provides an ecological option to extract water and provide potable drinking water.
“Bringing water to this community has a significant impact on the livelihood of the children living here. The lack of reliable water access posed a serious threat not only to their health but to their academic attendance and performance. Through adequate water supply, the children and women have a better opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and inequality,” Jonker states.
2021 marks the 10th anniversary of Franklin Wells for the World Foundation. In celebration of this milestone, the Foundation is dedicated to completing 10 projects in 10 countries throughout the globe—impacting the lives of up to 50,000 beneficiaries with clean and safe water access. This will bring the total number of people since the inception of FWWF to more than 250,000 who never had access to clean, safe drinking water.
Laurie Perolio-Bullinger is manager, digital marketing for Franklin Electric.