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Clean Water

Lions drink water from a clean water tank in 2011.

Lions drink water from a clean water tank in 2011.

Clean Water

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Touchstone Story #66

More than 1 billion people lack proper access to clean drinking water—that’s one in every nine people around the world. Two-thirds of those people live in Africa and Asia. The United Nations has recognized water as not only a fundamental human right, but a “prerequisite to the realization of all other human rights.”

Pumpuar Dasim, a resident of Monggis, a mountain village in Borneo, Malaysia, once walked two kilometers round trip, three times a day, to collect water for her family from a nearby stream. If the local oxen were bathing in it when she arrived, she had to leave and return later.

This stream was the only source of water for a village of 1,000. Local government officials promised running water in their homes, but said it would take up to 16 years to complete the project.

But then the Lions came.

In 2014, Malaysian and Korean Lions teamed up to build a 21-kilometer filtered pipe system from the stream to Monggis’s village center and install high-pressure spigots in individual homes. With help from a matching LCIF International Assistance Grant of US$20,000, the Lions brought clean drinking water to Monggis within four months.

“It has changed my life,” said Dasim, whose family now has clean water with the turn of a tap instead of a two-kilometer hike. “Many, many thanks to the Lions.”

This is just one success in the Lions’ ongoing clean water projects. In 1961, M.S. Chockalingam, vice president of the Salem Lions Club in India, presented a new well pump and motor to a local high school and an entirely new pipeline to a local elementary school, ensuring clean and filtered water for the students. In 2010, Dr. Yanaoussou Dolo, a member of the Bamako Sokala Lions Club of Mali, helped to drill the bore hole for a brand new well in the village of Morodjambougou.

“Water is life,” Dr. Dolo said. “When you provide water to where there is no water, you are serving those in need.”

Lions continue to install water purification systems in India; new latrines and education initiatives in Ethiopia; and new clean water systems from pipes or new bore wells on the African and Asian continents. The growing water crisis is a big challenge, and it requires expansive resources to take it on—but also the willingness to fix problems locally.

Adil Najam, the dean of the Fredrick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, refers to battling the global water crisis as “the type of global action that an organization like the Lions Club can pull together. It is this sort of network that can pull in ideas from all over the world, and bring small change to each community.”

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