As a church, we're supporting Tearfund's Make Life Flow campaign. As part of this campaign, several videos have been made, set in a village in Uganda where girls have to walk a long way to get water - the only spring is 1½ miles from the village, and down a very steep hill. The village in question is clearly in a bit of Uganda where there is plenty of water - Tearfund have helped to build a large rainwater storage tank, and there's lots of greenery around.
I don't doubt the campaign is a good one, but the videos left me unsettled because there were so many questions unanswered.
- As far as I can tell, every single old village in the UK (before water mains) was built on a river, stream or spring. Why was this one not? Were they refugees from some conflict? I can understand villages being built away from springs in areas where there isn't much water around, but this isn't one of those areas.
- In areas where there isn't a regular stable water supply (e.g. Israel), people have been building underground cisterns to store water in for thousands of years - at least as early as Genesis 37. Essentially, Tearfund have helped the village to do that (except with overground tanks). Why didn't they have cisterns already? Why wasn't that part of building the village in the first place?
- In the video, there were lots of women and teenage girls, but very few men and teenage boys (except the pastor and the schoolteacher). Where were they? The obvious answer would be doing some kind of herding work, but if all the men were some distance away, why was there so much danger of the women being raped on their way to collect water? And if they weren't some distance away, why weren't they offering to protect the women collecting water?
- Why weren't the men helping to improve the infrastructure, when it's obviously something which creates a lot of benefits and their physical strength would have been useful?
I guess it seems that there are so many background questions and issues that need tackling to really do something about poverty like this. I think I understand urban poverty far better - not that I know what to do about that either... Still, what Tearfund are doing looks like a good start.