Turning the Tide in Egypt

Egypt lake

A CRS program will help villagers clean up Lake Qaron, one of the few large lakes in Egypt, which has been polluted by improper waste water management. Photo by Laura Sheahen/CRS

What would you do if your house started sinking into the earth? That’s the situation faced by many impoverished villagers in Fayoum, Egypt.

One of the few areas of Egypt that does not lack water, Fayoum is below sea level. Poor drainage and other problems cause villagers’ mud-brick homes to sink little by little. Eventually, the first floor of the house is covered in wet silt, and the family must live only on the second floor.

The villagers can escape to the second floor, but they can’t always escape the waterborne diseases surrounding them. Without proper pipes and drain systems, sanitation becomes a problem. Canals in the villages are contaminated by sewage and used for garbage and animal waste. When people use the canal water for other purposes like washing, a cycle of disease results.

The environment, as well as people, suffers. Lake Qaron, one of a handful of lakes in this desert country, has been polluted by improper waste water management.

Egypt water

Villages in the region of Fayoum, Egypt, suffer from poor drainage system and bad sanitation. Photo by Laura Sheahen/CRS

CRS’ sanitation programs in Fayoum are turning the tide of unclean water. CRS has built pump stations, fitted miles of pipes and drainage lines, and established oxidation ponds to treat waste water properly. Nearly 7000 households have been hooked up to the improved sanitation system, helping over 57,000 Egyptian villagers live healthier lives.

The villagers are thrilled, showing their excitement through parades, banners, and parties. At the opening of one pump station, a band with tambourines and flutes played. Clean water systems may be status quo in America, but for the residents of Fayoum, they are something to celebrate.

– Laura Sheahen

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