Helping the poorest, the most vulnerable and the most marginalised often leads Tearfund to some far-out locations.
We’re talking about hard to reach places at the end of the proverbial line, too often overlooked and forgotten and where poverty has got its teeth into the locals.
In the case of Kumsot in Nepal, the teeth marks ran deep. Go back a few years and you would have found a community of 800 people living five miles up a rough track from a main road, 1,500 metres above sea level.
Everyone there is a Magar, an ethnic group that has been historically discriminated against in Nepal.
Agriculture is the main means of survival but productivity is low and farming has led to deforestation which in turn leads to landslides.
It doesn’t rain a lot in Kumsot, so people relied on rivers, streams and springs to get their household water but collection could take hours out of the day for women and girls. Even kids attending the local school had to collect their own drinking water.
During prolonged periods of little rain, kitchen gardens wilted, livestock suffered and people’s nutritional standards dipped, making them less healthy. Hygiene and sanitation standards weren’t too appealing either.
And to cap it off, the unhealthy water made people sick - regularly. But that’s what happens when you have Hobson’s choice.
So in terms of going where the need is greatest, Kumsot qualified in spades and Tearfund partner United Mission to Nepal (UMN) has been busy.
It began envisioning and empowering a church near Kumsot to become agents of positive change, sharing the love of Jesus in practical ways with the people around them.
This led to a partnership with the village where locals identified having access to clean water as their top priority and the church helped them set up a committee to do work.
UMN engaged an engineering consultant to survey and design the system, provide detailed cost estimates and give technical advice throughout the project
With finance from Tearfund, among others, the result was life-changing. Water was piped from source for 1.5 miles to an underground 18,000 litre tank and 11 taps were installed or repaired around the village, including the school.
Steve Collins, Tearfund’s Country Representative for Nepal, said, ‘Lack of clean water was hampering the lives of everyone in Kumsot but UMN has helped the church and community work together to tackle this poverty-inducing problem head-on.
‘Villagers contributed towards the cost of the work, illustrating their strong commitment to this drinking water project and they’ve learnt that working together they’re well placed now to tackle other issues.’
Tearfund is leading the global church to break the silence on this issue: to speak out on behalf of the millions who, for the lack of these basic services, are locked in extreme poverty.
Tearfund's global network of church partners is enabling communities to build and maintain their own toilet and water facilities. Addressing water and sanitation through our local church partners is one of the most cost-effective ways to release people from poverty: for every £1 spent on water and sanitation, £8 is returned through saved time, increased productivity and reduced health costs.
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