Clean Water -- Now More than Ever

As our world reopens, many of us are feeling grateful.

The pandemic has shown that Manitobans are inherently resilient and generous. We have donated to food banks, shopped for our elderly relatives, paraded in vehicles for birthday parties, and managed patiently to work and care for children.

Aided by more than a little luck, we avoided the grim circumstances seen in Italy and New York. It is perhaps all to easy to forget, however, that in communities both close and far away, people are living through this crisis without access to clean water. Public health officials remind us that one of the simplest and cheapest things one can do to prevent further outbreaks is to wash our hands with soap and water frequently. Yet, the United Nations reports that 40 percent of the world’s population, or 3 billion people, do not have a handwashing facility with water and soap at home. (1)

Safe drinking water and sanitation are basic human rights that have yet to be realized. Nowhere is this need more striking than in a camp of internally displaced refugees in Lemolo, Kenya. Through our work at KIDS Initiative, we met Janeth Langat, a mother of five and farmer who spoke to us about her daily struggle to find clean water. During the dry season, she goes on a search for water, walking up to 12 kilometers to a permanent river.

Water structures life in Lemolo. It determines whether the crops will yield, whether there will be money or food, whether Janeth’s children get ill or go to school. The looming pandemic has made the search for water critical, adding tension and stress to an already dire situation. Access to safe and clean water is not only a problem in rural Africa.

As of May 29, 2020, Manitoba 2 reported 13 municipalities and communities that are currently under boil water advisory. For three of the largely Indigenous communities of, Leaf Rapids, Duck Bay, and Lynn Lake, access to clean water has been a chronic and long-term issue. These communities require significant capital funding to gain access to clean water. The ongoing water crisis is an example of the ongoing legacy of colonization and has been described as Canada’s national shame. (3)

The pandemic highlights the deep inequalities that exist in our global society. Whether someone lives of dies is often a matter of social circumstance, of access to water, food, and the necessities most Manitoban’s can take for granted.

The current state of water access in Manitoba and beyond is simply unacceptable.

The COVID-19 pandemic forces us to look at the inequities in our world. We have a choice, to look away, or take this opportunity to support the realization of the right to water. We can use this chance to fast- track all efforts to improve water access and sanitation in Canada and abroad. We hope more people will join us to bring about a world where every person’s right to safe water and sanitation is realized, without discrimination of any sort.

Board of Directors,
KIDS Initiative Inc.

We are working with the Lemolo community to fast-track access to safe drinking water during this pandemic. To learn more and support this project go to

While the pandemic subsides in Canada, it is ramping up across other areas of the world. The pandemic is global. As we see it subside in Canada, cases in Kenya are increasing exponentially. It is difficult to think.

Now more than ever, we need to think of our neighbours down our streets and across the world, who need our support.


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