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Reaching Water, Growing Corn

Crop Potential-min

Most families in rural Zambia make a living by farming, yet an estimated 42% of them do not have access to clean water. From a health standpoint, there are clear consequences —diarrheal diseases, many of which are caused from waterborne illness, are among the country’s leading causes of death.

Zoom out, though, and other repercussions capable of devastating entire families and economies emerge. Without access to a clean and consistent source of water, farmers must look to rainfall to provide sustenance for crops, but shifting weather patterns have made it a less reliable source.

Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organization Music in World Cultures drilled two water boreholes to improve access to clean water in Chipembi, a village in Zambia’s Central province. The project came with challenges – it took 300 feet of drilling before groundwater was reached. Using a handpump to retrieve water that deep into the ground– a distance equivalent to six semi-truck trailers bumper to bumper— creates a significant barrier, especially for children and elderly.

Both boreholes in Chipembi are situated near private farms. When completed, they will not only reduce cases of waterborne illness, but they will also foster more reliable harvesting seasons.

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