Water, the driving force of nature and the source of all life, isn’t easy to come by in many areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. That’s why The Earth Institute partnered with Walter Wang, CEO of JM Eagle, to set up new and innovative water systems in The Earth Institute’s many Millennium Villages in 2009. To see how construction on the MVP water systems had progressed since then, Mr. Wang and several JM Eagle executives, along with Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, recently visited three Millennium Villages in Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda.
JM Eagle, the largest producer of plastic pipe in the world, has been an important ally in the development of The Earth Institute’s Millennium Villages Project (MVP). Mr. Wang’s generous donation of 400 miles of durable plastic pipe and additional funds for engineering and design costs will provide thousands of people in Sub-Saharan Africa with access to water. This latest visit is Wang’s second to Africa to witness the positive effect that a clean and reliable water supply has on a village community.
During the visit to the Millennium Village of Sauri, Kenya, Wang saw the impact of his donation on both large-scale and personal levels. Wang toured a municipal water treatment facility that served hundreds of families in and around Sauri through the piped water systems set up with donated plastic pipe. To view the impact of that water system on the community, Wang toured a school that was now able to feed students through its garden and poultry farm, both made possible by newly constructed water piping systems courtesy of JM Eagle.
The need for clean water in Africa is particularly acute. According to the African Development Bank, only 20% of the irrigation potential and about 6% of the hydropower potential has been developed in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, access to clean water supplies and sanitation in Africa was estimated in 2006 to be 64% and 38%, respectively, compared with corresponding world averages of 87% and 62%. Such deficits in clean water access result in millions of deaths each year due to water-borne diseases.
JM Eagle’s partnership with the Millennium Villages Project has created a model for water infrastructure development that is already working to tap Africa’s potential while saving lives.