Organizations Focused on the Water Crisis
Most of us can get a glass of water with the turn of a faucet. We even have the choice of which type of water we want to drink. But in many areas of the world clean water is completely inaccessible. Currently, 844 million people do not have access to clean water. Their lives revolve around trying to find or afford it and this cycle sends them into poverty for generations. Women and children face the greatest hardships from the global water crisis. They spend an estimated 200 million hours carrying water for their families.

These conditions are amplified by the fact that only 2.5 percent of water is drinkable and less than 1 percent is easily accessed through lakes and streams. The lack of safe drinking water contributes to 80 percent of disease in impoverished countries. The following organizations are focused on working so that the water crisis stops affecting those who need help the most.

Organizations Fighting Against Water Crises

  1. WaterCan is a Canadian charity working to increase clean water access, sanitation and hygiene education in impoverished areas. It was established in 1987 in order to break the cycle of poverty and sickness that affects areas without clean water access. The charity does not have a specific method of implementation but instead creates a unique solution for each area. It receives funding from the Canadian International Development Agency and individual donations.
  2. Drop In the Bucket is a grassroots organization formed in 2006. A small group of friends decided to fundraise to build a well in sub-Saharan Africa, and 12 years later, they have raised enough money for more than 350 wells. Drop In the Bucket not only installs wells in impoverished villages, but it also implements finance plans to maintain the wells it builds.
  3. WaterisLife. This organization has pledged to give safe drinking water to one billion people by New Year’s Eve of 2020. It focuses on educating the people it helps on the importance of clean water, sanitation and basic hygiene. It has also partnered with Innovative H2O to implement the SunSpring clean water system, a water treatment system that is completely self-sustainable, self-cleaning and can filter over 5,000 gallons of water every day for more than ten years.
  4. Blood: Water was formed in 2004 by the band Jars of Clay and activist Jena Lee. Its mission is to address the water crisis in Eastern Africa by focusing on individuals who were affected by HIV/AIDS. It works through the grapevine of communities to spread knowledge and awareness about hygiene and sanitation procedures, as well as all of the nearby locations with clean water. By increasing their awareness and education Blood: Water hopes to improve the longevity of people suffering from the autoimmune disorder and reduce the stress of access to drinkable water.
  5. This Shirt Helps. This organization was founded in 2011 on the idea that what matters most is what you do to help others. For every shirt sold buyer provides one month of education, one year of clean water, one animal saved or three trees planted for an area in need.
  6. Four men work to make the world a better place with Thirst Relief International. This organization is saving the planet from the water crisis by tailoring to the needs of impoverished areas with limited access to clean water. The methods they use to increase access to clean water are well drilling, well repairment, using BioSand filters and implementing the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) program.
  7. The Blue Planet Network works to end the global safe drinking water crisis. Instead of directly implementing a program to build wells or educational resources, it functions as a networking service. The Blue Planet Network connects those in need with various partner organizations that go into areas of need and create direct clean water solutions.
  8. WaterAid is education based. The organization works with local partners to deliver clean water and decent toilets, promote good hygiene and campaign to change normal for everyone. Its goal for 2019 is to bring water into 29 schools in Colombia and Nicaragua.
  9. Run for Water also focuses on small regions that need clean water the most. This organization organizes runs in cities across the United States to raise funds for the sanitation systems in schools for a specific area. Access to clean drinking water will allow communities to function effectively and improve their overall health. The improved health of the children will allow them to gain a more comprehensive education, extend their quality of life, and contribute to the economy effectively one day.
  10. It requires one liter of water and one liter of oil to produce a single plastic bottle. The Dopper Foundation believes this is a waste of water and a threat to the Earth. The Dopper water bottle is reusable and has a warranty that allows broken and damaged parts to be sent back into the company and recycled. Five percent of every Dopper purchase goes to the Dopper Foundation that works to create safe access to drinking water in impoverished countries. In this way, Dopper bottles help the Earth and those in need.

Water is necessary for human life. These 10 organizations presented above go above and beyond to help ensure that this necessity is met without risk to the health of developing countries. From merchandise that donates money toward improved drinking water access to organizations that focus on specific cities and schools, each charity makes a huge impact on the lives of many people. Reducing world poverty is a step-by-step process and access to safe water and adequate sanitation facilities are only the beginning.

– Emily Triolet

Photo: Flickr

Stressed and Depressed: Mental Health in South Korea
In South Korea, there is no such thing as a mental health problem. The national attitude concerning mental illness is not looked at as something that could and should be openly discussed. South Korea has always been advanced in its work ethic and technology breakthroughs. South Koreans are known to put in very long hours at the office as well as being very competitive, not to mention the amount of pressure put on students to do well in school.

However, the whole situation in the country, including educational and working pressure, has influenced the people and mental health in South Korea. According to the OECD data, South Korea has the second largest suicide rate in the world. According to government statistics, one in four South Koreans struggles with a mental health disorder at least once throughout their life. Sadly, the statistics also show that only one in 10 people will go seek some kind of professional help.

Old World Values

South Korean values traditionally center around Buddhism. These values accentuate modesty and family in the first place. Personal concerns are not the top priority to the family unit. “Talking openly about emotional problems is still taboo,” said Dr. Kim Hyong-soo, a psychologist and professor at Chosun University in Kwangju. South Koreans are stressed, depressed and are avoiding therapy at alarming rates. The South Korean thought process dates back to the old days where it was expected from a person to just grin and bear with the problems. This approach is active even today as South Koreans fear they will be stigmatized if they ask for help. Dr. Kim believes that eighty to 90 percent of the suicides in South Korea happens due to depression.

Bringing Awareness to the Problem

The South Korean government introduced the National Youth Healing Center under the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family in 2012. The program finds willing participants who suffer from mental health issues and have them participate in four-month treatment programs. The South Korean government also announced that $48.2 billion will be allocated for suicide prevention and mental health. This number is an increase of 7.7 percent from earlier years.

The Youth Health Programme works with the Korean Association for Suicide Protection. This particular nongovernmental organization encourages the education of “gatekeepers”, people who are meant to help identify citizens at-risk within their community. The Youth Health Programme helps to encourage safe talk that is also a training program that includes four stages: talk, ask, listen and keep safe. This program was aimed at younger people who could hopefully use these techniques to speak with their friends openly if they see that they are struggling.

Child Fund Korea

In 2017, Child Fund Korea sponsored 760,805 children. Child Fund Korea is the leading organization in South Korea for helping children in need. Its main goal is to provide each child with a healthy living environment, whether that is physically or mentally. Child Fund Korea understands that by starting young they may be able to help change the thought process on mental health in South Korea and persuade people to ask for help when in need.

Today, more and more South Koreans are realizing they need to figure out a way to deter stress from their life. As a result, South Korea holds the highest rates of cancer survivals while also having the ninth lowest obesity rate in the world. Yet, South Koreans are still stressing themselves to death. Thankfully, the South Korean government is understanding the need to educate its citizens in personal self-care. The government target is to reduce the suicide rate in the next five years from the current 26.5 per 100,000 people to 17, which is the current suicide rate in Japan. Success can only start when the stigma of mental health in South Korea and stress is recognized. Only then, the country and its people can move forward in full capacity.

Jennifer O’Brien

Photo: Flickr

solutions to human trafficking
The fight against human trafficking can be evaluated in three categories: what is being done, how it is being done and why it is being done. Human trafficking consists of the transferring, harboring and receipt of a person or persons. It is often done in violent or deceptive ways, using threat, coercion, payments and a clear abuse of power. Finally, the main motive behind human trafficking is exploitation, in most cases sexual exploitation or forced labor.

People all over the world are victims of human trafficking, both in their own countries and abroad. Because this is a widespread issue with varying levels, it becomes increasingly challenging to address it with a single set of laws or policies. While many countries have adopted their own policies for addressing this international issue, there are many things that people everywhere can do to join the fight against human trafficking. Some of the solutions for this problem are presented in the text below.

Top 10 Solutions to Human Trafficking

  1. Fundraising. Holding a fundraiser and donating the money raised to one of the countless organizations that help to fight human trafficking not only gives money to the cause but also brings awareness to the issue. Most organizations working to fight human trafficking are nonprofit organizations that rely on donations. Holding fundraisers helps maintain these nonprofits.
  2. Volunteer. Volunteering time and effort to an anti-trafficking organization is a great way to contribute to the fight against human trafficking. In addition to helping the organization itself, the more volunteers there are, the greater the outreach can be. For example, Unseen is a nonprofit organization that helps victims of human trafficking by providing specialist care to help them along the road to recovery. There are several volunteer roles with Unseen, ranging in levels of time commitment.
  3. Be aware of the signs of human trafficking. Being educated on signs that could indicate someone is a victim of human trafficking increases the likelihood of reporting and could give a voice to victims who do not feel comfortable speaking out for themselves. Signs that someone is a victim of human trafficking come in several categories. Poor work and living conditions, poor mental health and lack of control are some of the main areas to look for.
  4. Advocate. Meeting with or reaching out to local, state and federal representatives informs them that their constituents are passionate about fighting human trafficking, and brings the issue to their attention. This increases the likelihood that they will do something about it. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, for example, is the cornerstone of anti-trafficking legislation in America, yet it expired in 2011. Anti-trafficking nonprofits all over the country band together to advocate for its re-authorization, which was granted in 2013.
  5. Hold events to raise awareness. Raising awareness for human trafficking can also get more people involved and interested in joining the fight. It can create a chain reaction, leading to more people lobbying, fundraising and educating themselves. Regardless of what the event is, they are efficient ways to raise awareness for a cause and gain new followers.
  6. Boycott products and companies that permit human trafficking. Many goods produced in the United States and abroad are products of victims of human trafficking. Being conscientious about the products consumed and the companies supported is an easy way to contribute to the fight against human trafficking. An easy way to find out what products contribute to a “slavery footprint,” is the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.
  7. Help survivors. Donate clothes and other goods to shelters for victims of human trafficking. Also, encourage businesses to give jobs to survivors, helping them get back on their feet and get a fresh start. If applicable, offering legal advice to survivors allows them an opportunity to not only move forward but to gain justice. Helping survivors and contributing to their recovery stops the cycle of trauma in its tracks and ensures it won’t repeat itself.
  8. Stay informed. There are many anti-trafficking nonprofits with blogs and updates that people can subscribe to, keeping them in the loop of any new information or solutions to human trafficking. For example, the nonprofit organization Polaris Project offers updates via email for anyone who chooses to subscribe.
  9. Report suspicions – It is important to know the resources available. When traveling abroad, it is beneficial to look up the emergency phone number of the given country, to enable quick reports should a trafficking victim be spotted.
  10. Help combat the demand. The main factor that keeps human trafficking such a big issue is the constant demand for cheap labor and exploitation. Traffickers often turn to websites such as Craigslist and Backpage to target vulnerable potential victims. Enforcing stricter validity checks on websites like these and offering jobs through more reliable online platforms is attacking the problem at its root, and stopping human trafficking before it even begins.

These solutions to human trafficking can be applied to the lives of people everywhere, helping everyone feel like they are joining the fight against this international issue. At the political level, however, there is also a lot being done to combat human trafficking. In 2000, the U.S. Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, establishing what is now called the 3Ps: punish traffickers, protect victims, and prevent this problem from reoccurring. There is great progress being made on a grander scale, but by working towards these solutions and implementing them into everyday life human trafficking can become a more manageable problem.

– Charlotte Kriftcher

Photo: Flickr

International Rescue Committee

At the end of 2018, a year unfortunately marked by natural disasters and violent conflict, the global community is looking for ways to cope with international extreme poverty levels measuring at 10.7 percent and provide help for the 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide.

Recent figures published by the U.N. Refugee Agency reveal how almost one person is forcibly displaced from its home every two seconds as a result of the conflict, persecution or natural disaster. This vast number of people struggle to access and achieve basic human rights such as education, health care and employment.

According to many in the humanitarian field, this problem is expected to continue and even increase. Natural disaster-related displacement and impoverishment are expected to increase as a result of increasingly severe natural disasters as a product of climate change.

The International Rescue Committee

Although the situation is grim, there are numerous organizations and institutions fighting to safeguard the rights of impoverished and displaced people throughout the globe. One such group, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), has done so since 1933 when it was founded on the suggestion of a prominent group of American intellectuals that included the German-born physicist Albert Einstein.

The IRC, located in the United States, is a humanitarian nonprofit organization that has a mission to respond to humanitarian crises and support the people that are affected by crisis recover from their losses. Operating through 191 field offices in over 30 countries, the IRC has a broad diversity of projects underway that attempt to effectively address crises.

In 2017 alone, the organization helped nearly 23 million people access primary health care and provided 1.14 million children with schooling and other educational opportunities. In addition to their international efforts, the IRC also works in 27 cities in the U.S. in order to help newly settled refugees adjust to life in the country.

How the International Rescue Committee Works

The International Rescue Committee prioritizes evidenced-based impactful programs, fast and effective rescue and relief efforts and follows what they call better aid strategies. The IRC differentiates itself from other nongovernmental organizations with its commitment to ensuring that each of the aid or relief programs it runs are based upon solid, appropriate evidence or is at least contributing to the creation of new evidence.

Additionally, in terms of speedy response, the group has pledged to organize health care, distribute cash and deliver clean water within 72 hours of a disaster. “Better aid“, as the organization describes it, represents refocusing of aid and relief strategies to make quantifiable improvements in the areas in which the organization works (health, economic well-being, safety, education and power) while also being cost-efficient and effective.

Practically, this means devoting more time and energy to cash transfers that have been proven to effectively help people in need at a quicker pace and at lower costs. This also means adhering to evidence-based practices that make the most impact for a limited amount of resources. Additionally, the IRC is focusing on updating the way the humanitarian community approaches protracted displacement.

Protracted Displacement

Protracted displacement refers to the increased duration of displacement and refugees separation from home. The longer-term of refugees staying in host communities have posed a challenge to the traditional mold of humanitarian assistance and has pitted refugees in a burdensome relationship to their asylum governments.

In the International Rescue Committee’s effort to address protracted displacement, the organization is advocating for the advancement of a new model that connects international institutions, donors, refugee host-governments and nongovernmental organizations in a combined effort to shape longer-term sustainable development that incorporates displaced populations not as liabilities, but as contributors in a new economic partnership.

Interventions by outside bodies in the form of providing access to capital, employment, cash transfers and other strategies can uplift displaced communities and help them recover economically while at the same time benefiting host-governments by creating a new labor force willing to work for their place in the country. With new creative planning, like the one being done at the International Rescue Committee, mutualistic relationship between refugees and their hosts can be formed.

Hope for Tomorrow

In the years to come, it is highly unlikely that the crises of poverty, displacement and conflict will dwindle. With the effects of climate change creeping in upon us, bringing stronger and more frequent natural disasters, conflict and higher numbers of displaced people, there’s much work to be done in addressing the problems that will follow.

In that regard, the forward-thinking work being done by the International Rescue Committee and other similar organizations to rethink humanitarian relief strategy is an uplifting piece of news. Hopefully, it signals the impoverished and displaced people of the world that they are not forgotten.  

– Clarke Hallum

Photo: Flickr