The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Waiting for water

Working ecumenically, Lutherans bring water and other necessities to Iraq's poor

Tanker trucks quickly gather crowds in the dusty streets of Basra, southern Iraq. Those gathered carry any container capable of holding the precious drops. Each day, trucks travel from pumping stations in Kuwait to Iraq, where high infant mortality rates, malnutrition and disease are widespread. It’s a risky journey on roads patrolled by bandits.

Arve Danielson, an electrical engineer, and Tor Valla, a water specialist, make the journey every day from Kuwait City to work for UNICEF in and around Um Qasr and Basra. They and other aid workers were sent to UNICEF from Norwegian Church Aid, an ELCA partner in the international aid alliance, Action By Churches Together.

The ACT partners struggle to provide aid despite gunfire, unsafe roads, and problems with electricity and phone lines.

Clean water, for free

Danielson and Valla work on water delivery and restoration of water-pumping stations in southern Iraq. Small waterworks that previously produced clean water were destroyed or don’t work due to a lack of maintenance.

Basra, population 1.7 million, has only 40 percent of the water it needs, Danielson said. “Four of the eight water treatment plants in the city were damaged by looters in the past few days and are out of action,” he added. “Security is very bad.”

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February issue


Embracing diversity