What’s the problem?  Why does Marion Medical Mission do what we do?  Why water?

Because unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kills more people annually than all forms of violence, including war. (1)  In the world, 663 million people do not have access clean water (2).  And the vast majority of that 663 million is made up of impoverished peoples…

 “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them” (Isaiah 41:17). 

What’s important to God is important to us.  This seems important.

Okay, so why Africa?  Almost half of the world’s population that lacks clean water–330 million people– live in Africa. (3)

And why remote areas in East Africa?  Because 84 % of those water-deprived Africans live in rural areas. (3)

As our focus on the problem grows more specific, the necessity for clean water becomes more evident.  We work in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania, where women and children bear the brunt of this cruel injustice.  UNICEF reports that in sub-Sahara Africa one in five children die before their fifth birthday due to water-borne illnesses, which they contract from drinking dirty water. (4)

According to a Stanford study, people in Sub-Sahara Africa spend around 40 billion hours per year carrying water (5).  And the bulk of those hauling the water are women and children.  64% of households rely on women to retrieve their water when there is no source at home. (6)  To make things worse, the walk to get water can produce negative side effects such as…

  •  Disease – Reducing the time spent walking to fetch water by 15 minutes lessens the mortality rate in children under the age of five by 11 percent and nutrition-depleting diarrhea by 41%.  (5)
  • Danger – Harassment, sexual assault, animal attacks and other hazards can arise during these long walks.
  • Lost education – Children miss school to fetch water.  In total, 443 million school days are lost to water-related illnesses. (7)
  • Physical strain – A normal water container weighs about 40 pounds when it’s full, which takes a toll on a woman’s spine over the years.  Women experience back pain much earlier in life. (8)

Although this seems like an incredibly dire situation, there is hope!  In the past 23 years, 2 billion people have gained access to clean water. (9)  Marion Medical Mission has played an active role in this fight against dirty water.  Since 1990, we have built over 25,000 wells in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia providing an estimated 3.75 million people with a sustainable source of safe drinking water. Without Christ, that would’ve been impossible!  With Him, all is possible.  And by His power, we believe that countless millions of others will receive life-giving water.

 Jesus said in John 7:37-38, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 

Amen.  And hallelujah!


  1. WHO, “Global Burden of Disease 2004”
  2. World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP). (2015)
  3. Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)
  4. WHO/UNICEF, “Diarrhoea: Why children are still dying and what can be done,” 2009
  5. Freshwater Availability and Water Fetching Distance Affect Child Health in Sub-Saharan Africa – Environ. Sci. Technol., 2012, 46, pp 2391–2397
  6. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, “Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water, 2010
  7. United Nations Develop Program (UNDP), Human Development Report 2006; Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis
  8. United Nations Development Programme, “Resource Guide on Gender and Climate Change,” 2009
  9. ONE, Water & Sanitation, 2013