Where we work
By 2015, 181 countries had achieved over 75% coverage with at least basic services thanks to large successes with WASH access in the past 20 years.
The map below shows where the need remains dire. Of those most vulnerable countries, Mozambique is at the top.
Mozambique underwent a War of Independence and a 17-year civil war that led to extreme poverty and severely vulnerable living conditions. Nevertheless, Mozambique is in many senses a success story. After over 30 years of war, the country has been characterized by peace and relative economic stability for the past decade. GDP growth rates are high in the country – averaging 8% over the past few years. International institutions claim that the successful growth of Mozambique has come about as a result of greater liberalization, increased privatization of poorly run state institutions, and greater stability in the country. Yet Mozambique’s impressive economic achievements are fragile and uneven – rural areas in particular have not felt the benefits — which is where Water Underground works exclusively.
With the 22nd highest child mortality rate in the world, every year 82,000 children in Mozambique don't make it to the age of five. In 2015, 43% of all children under 5 were receiving advanced diarrhea treatment (it should be noted that these are reported interventions from health centers, where the majority of rural households cannot manage to get to).
Given that water-borne pathogens are the main factor in diarrheal disease — it is clear that lack of WASH facilities is leading cause of child mortality.
Economic impact of water scarcity
This means Mozambique has over 1/2 of their entire population walking 4-6 hours of every day to fetch water with no income-generating activities possible because of this burden.
Consequently, this translates to 1/2 of the entire population not participating in the countries economy. In a micro/ macro economic snapshot - it is virtually impossible for the country to rise into development when this is the reality.
Access to clean water & sanitation
Of Mozambique’s population, 70.2% live in rural areas. Water supply and sanitation coverage levels in Mozambique remain among absolute the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa. According to official state data, 71.8% of the rural population does not have access to safe water.
72% of foreign aid for water access is allocated to urban areas and improving its infrastructure. This leaves a devastatingly ignored rural population which is already among the most vulnerable in the world.
These people living in the rural areas are fundamentally trapped in poverty— and water access is the only logical first step to address it.
Our Regional Focus
The region of Water Undergrounds projects is primarily focused on Massinga District, Inhambane Province, Mozambique.
Massinga is one of the more populous Districts in Mozambique. 87% of the population of Massinga live in areas that would entirely rely on the availability of water wells in the community. Of that number, only 33% have adequate access to a clean water point. Only 9% of houses in rural Massinga District have improved sanitation.
Women & Education
Of the women in the district over 5 years of age, 62% never attended school and only 10% have completed primary school education.
Only 38% of girls continue school past the 5th grade, dropping out around 13-14 years of age.
52.9 % of women are first married before their 18th birthday; and the Adolescent Fertility Rate (births from women ages 15-17) in Massinga was 18% in 2015.
Continuing access to education is the most vital ingredient to combat this issue.
Our immediate goal is 100% access to clean water and sanitation for the District of Massinga.
Every school will have water
There are a total of 63 schools in the District of Massinga. In 2014, only 18 of those 63 schools had access to clean water. Schools are the focal point of density for all communities.
*We operate in the most rural and vulnerable areas. Those communities located closer to the main village will be left to the responsibility of the District Government in an attempt to hold them accountable as well.
Decision to consolidate the regional focus of our projects is to have a consolidated impact and an ability to measure our impact, especially in our first years of operations, with relative consistency of cultural and geographic variables.
UN Sustainable Development Goals
This Strategy will help fulfill the vision and contribute to global efforts to meet the water and sanitation UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Why we chose Mozambique
Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world, however politically, it is one of the more stable nations on the African continent, which is one of the reasons this country was chosen to launch first Water Underground projects. 70% of the population of Mozambique live in the rural areas, with little to no opportunity for economic development due to lack of access to clean water.
The founder, Justin Arana, had traveled to Mozambique in 2008, and was confronted head on by the water crisis and the subsequent poverty trap that people (especially women) were living in. He soon formed a strong bond with Silvestre Uquieo, a local Mozambican (formally Minister for Agriculture in Inhambane Province) who shared his passion for wanting to change the tackle the global water crisis.
Given the fact that Silvestre had trusted ties within the Massing District Government - wherein red tape could be eliminated and no corruption was possible, they agreed that this was the perfect location to launch first projects.
Justin and Silvestre continued to work for other NGOs in the water sector while they developed their model. Together, after spending many years formulating a model of sustainability and empowerment to help communities in rural Mozambique lift themselves out of poverty, in 2014, Water Underground was established.