Archived News Item

Water Is Life

Children from the East Sepik Province in Papua New Guinea use the same water source to drink, bathe and wash clothes in.



It is often said that the next World War will be over water. Goldman Sachs, the global finance company, describes it as ‘the petroleum of the next century’ while in February this year, during a meeting with international experts participating in a ‘Dialogue on Water’, Pope Francis warned that water scarcity ’causes conflict and the whole globe is on its way to a great world war over water’.


It has been long forgotten that the revolution against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad arose from civil unrest relating to water. Youths from the Syrian town of Daraa were caught spraying anti-establishment graffiti in protest against the local governor’s corrupt allocation of scarce reservoir water. Their imprisonment and subsequent torture was the breaking point for the villagers from which the youths came. Similar scenarios are repeated in many countries across the globe.


And while conflict over access to clean water continues, affected communities have no option but to resort to consuming contaminated water which leads to illness and death. Last year, Mercy Works received an urgent application from the Diocese of Wewak in Papua New Guinea seeking funding to provide clean and safe drinking water to remote communities in the East Sepik Province. Over 31,000 inhabitants from more than 50 villages were using the same polluted water to drink, cook, wash clothes and bathe in. They’d been told to add bleach to the water they consumed, completely unaware of the associated dangers. Boiling the water prior to consumption was not always possible due to the shortage of dry wood. With the help of generous donors and long-time supports of Mercy Works, Peter and Pam Doughtery, we had no hesitation in agreeing to support this vital project which involves the supply and installation of 34 water tanks and community education programs for the people of this region.


One year into this 3-year project and 11 tanks have already been installed with immediate positive outcomes. Schools which had previously remained closed due to water shortages are now back to normal operating hours and children no longer need to spend their days engaged in water collection for their household. Most importantly, outbreaks of water-borne disease such as dysentery and cholera have been drastically reduced.


Clean water isn’t a gift or a perk. It’s a basic human right and for the smallest, most vulnerable members of these remote communities in Papua New Guinea, it can be the difference between life and death.

For regular updates on the Wewak water project or more information about how you can support Mercy Works please visit our Facebook page on or website:

Messages to Maria Rallas


29 May 2017