Ghana (MNN) — It should come as no shock to anyone at this point that the world has a serious water crisis. There are roughly 780 million people worldwide without access to potable drinking water, and the results of such misfortune can be deadly.
Just how pestilent the problem is depends on the nation. In Ghana, for instance, the government has made note of three million people, or 15% of the population, who do not have access to clean drinking water. Mary Kay Jackson says the actual number is much higher.
Jackson is a civil engineer who now works to solve Ghana's water problems with The Mission Society, Methodist Development Relief Services, and Pure Home Water. She says the government does not take into account the high number of people who have broken water pumps or who are simply far away from a clean water source.
It's clear that the water crisis is affecting at least three million, but likely more, in Ghana. The results of the issue are severe.
"When you look at children under 5 years old, waterborne disease is the leading cause of death," explains Jackson. "It's estimated that somewhere around 3,000 children die a day in Africa from waterborne disease."
Jackson has been working tirelessly with individual communities to provide various water solutions. She says the end goal is to create a pipe system, but for now the solutions often come in the form of household water filters or boreholes.
As Jackson and those she works with have been able to solve some of these problems, the rate of disease has decreased in the communities. Some of it is anecdotal evidence, as community members remark on how much stronger they feel and how many more days their children are able to attend school. But quantitative studies have also taken place, and the results have been astonishing.
"We've had graduate students from MIT come and do household studies looking at the benefits of having a water filter in the household," says Jackson. "They've reported as much as 80% reduction in diarrheal disease in children under five in that household."
The list of benefits goes far beyond that, though, from fewer malnourished kids, to higher school attendance; from higher productivity in families, to increased income. Perhaps most significant of all is the way the projects are motivating believers to spread the Gospel.
"The Ghanaians have a tradition: anytime a visitor comes, the first thing you do is offer them water," says Jackson. "So I tell these communities, ‘Now you've got people coming, and as they visit your community, you've got safe water to share with them…. But how much more important is it to share the water of life, the Gospel message, with them as they come to your community as well.'"
Jackson's various teams work mainly with churches or through church-sponsored institutions, but as clean water becomes a reality, the idea of offering a cup of water in Jesus' name is catching on with Ghanaian believers.
You can be a part of this ministry in Ghana, too. Click here to sponsor Ghana Water Projects directly through the Mission Society.