While the complaint is often heard that Davis drinking water is not the tastiest beverage around, the city has not come close to violating any health standards.
Meanwhile, the situation in sub-Saharan Africa is a much different story: 1.1 million people die in the region every year from water-related diseases, including cholera and malaria.
The 1000 Wells Project Davis chapter is working to raise awareness and funds in order to build wells and infrastructure in various African communities. The organization’s main two weeks of fundraising begins Apr. 19.
“Clean water is a fundamental human right and it hurts us to know that there are 1.1 billion people out there that don’t have access to clean water,” said Tiffany Tao, a senior psychology and communication double major and head coordinator of the project.
The lack of clean water often has devastating impacts for communities in Africa that are already dealing with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Eighty percent of all deaths in developing countries are caused by waterborne illnesses, many of which afflict immune systems weakened by fighting off the prevalent virus.
Additionally, the miles-long walk conducted by many in these communities in search of water means children skip out on school and leaves women vulnerable to attack.
“We need to do more to improve water quality and supply to improve their general lives,” said William Fleenor, a UC Davis professor in the civil and environmental engineering department.
According to the coordinators involved in the 1000 Wells Project, this goal should not be very hard. Estimated costs of average clean water projects indicate that it only takes $1 to supply one person in Africa with clean water for a year.
Members of the project have become increasingly active within the community since the inception of the Davis chapter in 2004.
Volunteers routinely table at the Memorial Union on the Quad and during farmers markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
And beginning on Saturday, the group will embark on its main two weeks of fundraising it calls “two weeks of sacrifice.”
Instead of spending money on coffee, juice, milk, soda or other drinks, the organization invites the community make water their only beverage for this span, donating the otherwise spent money to 1000 Wells.
Tao and the rest of the organization hope conscientious students and community members will help the organization reach its goal of raising $15,000 during the calendar year, she said.
“College students don’t have much money, but I think it’s safe to say that we have a dollar, and that dollar can go pretty far in ensuring these people have clean water,” Tao said.
The money goes to partner organizations that build the wells. The costs of the wells can range from $200 for repairing a neglected hand pump to $15,000 to $20,000 for constructing an electric urban pump, Tao said.
With these funds, the organizations embark upon well construction with the goal of educating the community on the importance of the wells as well as how to maintain them.
“This well drilling is very important because, as you’re well aware of, Africa is not wet,” Fleenor said. “There may not be a substitute to building wells in some regions, so it is a very worthwhile endeavor.”
While each project requires a different length of time to complete, the organization hopes that the goal of 1,000 wells will be reached within five to 10 years. Currently, the organization has completed projects in various African countries, including Kenya, Uganda and the Sudan.
Meanwhile, community members and local businesses said they are excited to donate to the cause.
Lori Rumsey, owner of Mother & Baby Source, a local maternity supply store located at 714 Second St. Rumsey donated a stuffed animal to the organization for an upcoming silent-auction to be held at the farmers market.
“I just think it’s great,” she said. “I am so excited to see young people get active and a program like this is so important.”
For more information on upcoming fundraiser or how to get involved with the 1000 Wells Project, visit davis1000wells.org.
CHINTAN DESAI can be reached at email@example.com.