Sedbeni is a community of approximately 750 people (>50% of whom are children) in Ghana’s northern region. YLI Coach Jonah Manyan and his team planted a church in the community a few years ago, and it became evident to him that a lack of access to clean drinking water was the most pressing issue in the community.
During the rainy season (typically June-September) a small river runs through a valley below Sedbeni, but during the much longer dry season the river becomes a footpath. Around the riverbed exist naturally occurring wells (small holes in rock) unlike anything we have encountered before. These natural wells are openings to the underground sources of water, but they, too, dry up and are insufficient to provide drinking and cooking water for the community. Dry natural wells also often become burrows for rodents and pythons.
The right solution for Sedbeni was two-phased. First, the well and pump when working properly can provide some water to both the community and animals. The cost/benefit for fixing it was a no-brainer. In itself it is not sufficient to source the entire community, but it is certainly a part of the solution. The water repaired pump design allows for catching what would be wasted water and directs it to a trough for livestock.
The second part of the solution was a rain-water catchment system. Four months of the year consist of heavy rainfall, but with no way to capture and store the rain, much of the water has been wasted. Now, a pavilion with two connecting water tanks will capture >100k liters of water, which will, in combination with the well/water pump, provide sufficient clean water for the people and livestock of Sedbeni. As rain falls on the large pavilion, gutters direct the the water through a screen filter into the water tanks where it is stored. Each tank is fitted with a tap that is locked when not in use. A rubber hose connected to the tap is used to fill buckets that the women and children carry to their homes. What they carry typically supplies their family’s need for two days! When the rains stop in October and the river again runs dry the people will begin to tap the water.
After the completion of our first rainwater catchment system in 2010, we learned that the community was using the pavilion for a worship space as there was no church building in the community. That church has since planted several additional churches in surrounding communities. The pavilion has also served as the first school in some of the communities in which we are working. Children are getting clean water, learning about God, and receiving an education at the same facility! We expect that in Sedbeni, too, the water project will deliver value beyond clean drinking water.
Water projects have also been a source of hospitality for travelers to the village. Offering water and a place to rest for visitors is an important cultural value, so the water system provides a sense of dignity to the community. The pavilion and water system also allows the community to host nomadic Muslims during rain storms. The Christians in these communities are thankful for this practical way to demonstrate the love of God to travelers who do not know Jesus.
I am so thankful for Jonah and his ministry team, the water contractor and the leadership of the community. Our prayer is that through this system, people with significant physical needs and deep spiritual needs will be nourished by clean water and Living Water, and that the gospel will continue to spread through the northern region of Ghana.