In downtown Cincinnati, the aptly named Fountain Square, displays many sculptures integrated in one fountain representing the genius of water: drinking water, fire protection, agriculture, etc. Water is a requisite tool in the development of a region: lack of it, or inadequate treatment, blocks lasting (sustainable) development. Water is such an essential element, even more than food in that you can survive three weeks without food, but only three days without water.
At the turn of the tap, we receive for pennies an abundant supply of high quality water because of the dedicated and continued efforts of engaged employees at GCWW. The continuous investments in research and infrastructure over the almost 200 years of its history, made GCWW a prominent water system in the US, and even in the word.
As the water quality improved, especially at the turn of the 20th century when sand filtration (Cincinnati Water Works was a pioneer with the work of George Fuller) and chlorination dramatically decreased typhoid fever cases, people started to take greater care of it and to use more of it, which further contributed to the economic development of the region.
The lack of adequate water systems in rural and peri-urban areas in Rwanda prevents such sustainable economic growth. Imagine having to walk half a mile each way, wait for your turn to get water (from 20 min to up to 1 hour), carry back 5-gal jugs so your family can have water (with a quality we would probably object to): at the minimum, the time spent for getting this basic necessity is time not available to do some productive work.
So how can this situation be turned around? See the upcoming post about Water for People and its mission. I plan also tomorrow to have a quick video introduction of the other World Water Corps team members, so keep tuned!