Imagine being a nine-year old girl and having to wake up every morning at 5:00 a.m. to walk into the dark forest to fetch firewood. Then imagine having to walk back home for miles with the heavy branches on your head, weighing down on your neck and causing chest pain. Now imagine getting back home after all that effort and not having any water available to cool your thirst. If you lived in Kenya you wouldn’t have to use your imagination to picture this because this would be your reality. 90% of people in the Western Province of Kenya have no easy access to drinking water. They have to use wood to boil water to make it safe for drinking.
Just six or seven decades ago a beautiful forest covered most of Western Province. Today, a lot of the forest is gone. Forest degradation and the reduction of rainfall are connected. Once the forest is destroyed, the rainfall is reduced. In order to avoid conflicts that might lead to civil wars, Kenya’s forests need to be protected urgently, but that can’t happen if people rely on firewood to boil the water they need to drink.
The population is growing rapidly. Fifty years ago there were only 10 million inhabitants. That rapid rise in population growth needs to be sustained by a healthy environment. Currently the forest only covers 1.7% of the land.
About 5,000 Kenyans, most of which are children, die each year from diseases related to drinking contaminated water or inhaling toxic fumes produced from burning wood near their homes. Two of the largest killers are pneumonia and diarrhea. By creating a system through which families no longer need to boil their water, these two diseases can be easily eradicated.
Carbon for Water is a campaign in which trained workers visit thousands of homes to install equipment that filters water. The result of this is that water no longer needs to be boiled before drinking. This means that the project significantly reduces the amount of toxic carbon emissions that in the end affect all of us regardless of where we might live.
This award-winning short film by Evan Abramson & Carmen Elsa Lopez explains this unique new public health program that has provided the region with sustainable access to clean water which has in turn improved the health and quality of life of the inhabitants.