Water Access in Tajikistan
Despite having the greatest natural supply of freshwater sources across the region, water access in Tajikistan is an ongoing challenge. Only 55% of the country’s residents have access to this human right that has turned into a luxury. The country already faces several shortcomings and obstacles across the rural areas. Tajikistan has progressed in the past decade in reconfiguring its water laws and existing supply systems. Although it increased access to improved water sources from 75% to more than 84%, the critical issues of water security and continuous supply still remain. The work that has occurred during the past decade has paved a way for further progress. More work is necessary to address the issue of water access at its core.

The Roots of The Issue of Water Access

According to the research that the World Bank conducted, obstructions to water access in Tajikistan are likely due to poor infrastructure. Much of the piping was built throughout the 1970s and 1980s and commissioned by the Soviet Union. Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, these facilities have seen little to no maintenance. According to research conducted by Marufjon Abdujabborov in 2020, a specialist in analysis in Tajikistan’s internal office, only 68% of water infrastructure in cities was in working order, and across rural areas that figure dropped to 40%.

Aside from the effects of consuming unsanitary water on internal organs, the inadequacies of water access in Tajikistan also have a strong bearing on hygiene facilities, instilling harsh inequalities across the country. For example, only 1.7% of households in rural areas have access to a flush toilet, compared to 60% across urban areas. The World Bank reported that “One in four households in Tajikistan does not have access to sufficient quantities of water when needed. Service is interrupted for long periods because of breakdowns in water supply infrastructure.” Poor access to water systems forces many in the affected areas to gather water from neighboring provinces and villages. Doing so has worsened tensions amongst rural communities and increased border disputes. Furthermore, the responsibility of gathering water typically falls on women and children of the household. This impedes children’s education and causes detrimental effects on their health.

A Project to Solve the Water Crisis

Tajikistan Water Supply and Sanitation Investment Project, which was introduced in 2021, outlines strategic initiatives for expanding safe and affordable water supply and sanitation across the country. On July 2022, the International Development Association (IDA) grant of $45 million was approved, thereby securing funding for the project. The proposal focuses on following a series of initiatives targeting strongly affected areas, starting with the region of Khatlon. Projected beneficiaries of this operation amount to 250,000 residents across the region. There are other 24 similar projects that the World Bank has financed across Tajikistan.

Additional investment by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will target vulnerable areas of the Dushanbe region. Reconfiguration of the regional water systems, including sanitation and sewage collection, are the overarching aims of the aforementioned programs. Further development initiatives under the Water Supply and Sanitation Investment Project can draw inspiration and models of sustainable operation that are developed by the current investments.

Women-led Solutions Through Associations

In 2012, the Tajik government introduced local “water users associations” in response to the challenges associated with water access in Tajikistan. It commissions private farms to manage the delivery of water across their respective regions and promotes the management of irrigation systems and water supplies. The struggle has seen resourceful individuals rise to the challenges and take action through the water users’ associations. Uguloy Abdullaeva, a local dairy farmer in Dushanbe, was elected as the acting head of her association. Through her fundraising efforts, she received $420,000 from the American embassy to fund the reformation of the project.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) offered two years of training in water management to Uguloy. As a result, she gained a comprehensive understanding of water management and effectively invested in a piece of land, an excavator, new pipes and water locks for the region. The knowledge she learned from the training programs has spread to farmers within her association. Since then, farmers have become more responsible with their farms and there are fewer issues with water.

Further funding for development assistance is necessary to extend operations and ensure access to clean water for those that need it. The inspiring work of associations and individuals is effectively handling investments and improving water access across their districts. It has changed the lives of thousands in vulnerable areas. Most importantly, it serves as a strong example for the youth and citizens to build a better Tajikistan.

– Bojan Ivancic
Photo: Flickr

Water Scarcity in Ethiopia
Only
57% of Ethiopians have access to clean water today. Time spent searching for clean water, a place to use the bathroom and money spent to treat waterborne illnesses contributes to the poverty crisis by impeding education and potential financial growth. These are four NGOs fighting water scarcity in Ethiopia.

Water4Ethiopia

Water4Ethiopia is an independent charity based in London working to improve water insecurity in Ethiopia. The organization has helped about 5,300 Ethiopians access clean water.

In many parts of Ethiopia, safe water is in relatively shallow ground, but the water supply is easily contaminated. Water4Ethiopia works with people local to the area to construct a protected hand-pumped well and treat it with a small amount of chlorine. Water4Ethiopia builds capped springs that transfer water to distribution points.

Water4Ethiopia has installed capped springs that move water to distribution points in Beku Golba, Saglie and Dodo. Hand-dug wells with pumps to distribute water have improved water conditions in Ababari, Kolle, Kidanemihret, Lower Woibla, Maje-Azwara, Mewagna and Kufif. Water4Ethiopia also implements hygiene and sanitation programs to ensure safe, clean water is readily available.

There are in-progress projects that Water4Ethiopia organized to meet its mission to end water scarcity in Ethiopia. Water4Ethiopia hopes to implement hand-dug wells with hand pumps in communities such as Lolo and Marwenz.

Lifewater

Lifewater is an organization that focuses on regions that are hard to reach and implements custom solutions to improve water scarcity in Ethiopia. Lifewater has built over 500 water sources in more than 395 villages. About 88% of WASH solutions are still running, and more than 198,000 people have improved their water sanitation. A core value of Lifewater is “serving the least, the lost, and the last.”

There are five types of custom water solutions engineers at Lifewater use that include hand-dug wells, drilled wells, protected springs, rainwater harvesting and rehabilitated wells. A team of engineers collaborates with the community to determine the best approach for a specific community. Every village is different in its resources, population, distance from water sources and time spent in line waiting for water.

Testing water quality has allowed 88% of water solutions to remain in place and continue to provide communities with water. The goal is to meet the WHO guidelines for having international water sources within one kilometer of one’s house with waiting times of less than 30 minutes.

Lifewater lists fundraisers on its website and shares periodic updates for funding and the progress of water solutions. Recently completed water projects in Ethiopia include hand-pumped wells in Erbaye Huleti, Kenchota and Shefele.  

The Millennium Water Alliance Ethiopia Program

The Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) has created a sustainable water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) program outlining a five-year plan to help Ethiopia attain clean, low-cost water by 2030. This plan prioritizes increasing access in schools and hospitals, the functionality of water solutions and budgeting to ensure solutions last.

The MWA has recently taken a broader approach to improve water conditions. The organization considers the big picture rather than only focusing on infrastructure by focusing on sustainability to ensure water solutions operate long-term.

Researchers at the MWA utilize water point data to determine which districts in Ethiopia need WASH assistance. The Water Point Data Exchange (WPdx) works alongside the WASH program to monitor water accessibility and cleanliness in regions. Reporting collected data on the WPdx allows for collaboration between NGOs and the Ethiopian government to allocate resources.

The MWA also continues to learn about water scarcity in Ethiopia and effective methods to share with other NGOs or government organizations to recreate similar infrastructure in other regions. Thus far, the MWA has successfully provided clean water in Ethiopia for more than 2 million people in hard-to-reach areas.

Hope H2O

Hope H2O is a Canadian volunteer organization that develops educational and WASH projects in Ethiopia. Its mission is to enhance water sanitation and quality of life for Ethiopians. Dating back to 2010, Hope H2O has assisted more than 25,000 Gimbichu District residents.

Hope H2O strategies include large concrete reservoirs, water taps, drains and technology to track usage. All materials used for infrastructure came from Ethiopian merchants and community members that professional plumbers and masons assisted.

The organization works to ensure water points are accessible to most of the community and that the community understands proper sanitary procedures to keep water access points clean. Hygienic methods taught include consistent hand washing and designated family latrine pits that will not contaminate nearby water sources.

Work done in the Menjigsso Gora community improved an old government-installed pump and stationed a generator to extract safe water into a reservoir with a wide service zone. Creating water points in the local elementary school improved school conditions and education in the community, as it was previously difficult to retain teachers.

Hope H2O is currently in phase two of its project in Germama Village. The project entails the construction of sanitary water facilities and community sanitation education. COVID-19 and political unrest halted progress for about six months in 2020 until construction resumed.

Looking Ahead

Access to clean water is a human right vital for the health of Ethiopians and the fight against global poverty. Without water, families are unable to handle other factors contributing to their financial state. It is important to ensure every person has access to basic human needs and these NGOs are working towards that goal.

– Mikada Green
Photo: Flickr

Cambodia’s Drinking Water CrisisCambodia is a Southeastern Asian country known for drastically decreasing its poverty rates from 47.8% of the population in 2007 to 13.5% in 2014. Despite a reduction in poverty rates, Cambodia suffers from a drinking water crisis due to a lack of sanitation. The consequences of this crisis are life-threatening, however, a number of organizations are fighting Cambodia’s drinking water crisis to maintain its climb to prosperity.

Cambodia’s Drinking Water Crisis

One in three Cambodians drinks water from a non-improved or non-reliable source. While the country has improved in sanitation, this improvement is primarily present in urban areas such as Phnom Penh, which is Cambodia’s capital. Basic sanitation in urban areas increased from 49% to 88% in 2015, but only 39% of the rural population has basic sanitation, and only 24% drink water from a clean, regulated water source. Children in rural areas are also two times more likely to drink from contaminated drinking sources than urban children. Seeing as how 61% of the Cambodian population lives in rural areas, it is clear that the majority of the population is suffering.

Moreover, eight in 10 Cambodians living in rural areas defecate in open bodies of water due to a lack of toilets, according to UNICEF. This open defecation leads to coliform and E. coli, which are both disease-causing bacteria, in drinking water. Sadly, diarrhea contributes to most of the under-five child deaths in Cambodia and can lead to stunted and impaired brain development.

Water.org

Starting its work in Cambodia in 2014, Water.org is a global nonprofit that brings clean water and sanitation to countries around the world. The organization uses microfinance, which is a service provided to those who usually don’t have access to banking or financial services. Water.org, through its WaterCredit Initiative program, partners with financial institutions willing to supply small loans to locals. These locals then use the loans to install toilets in their homes so they no longer have to defecate in open bodies of water.

The organization had a goal of reaching 300,000 Cambodians in three years, but they met the goal in two. Overall, in Cambodia, Water.org has reached 1.9 million people, disbursed 435,000 loans and achieved an average repayment rate of 99%.

Cambodians Community Dream Organization (CCDO)

Working in Cambodia for 15 years, the Cambodian Community Dream Organization (CCDO) aids villages surrounding Siem Reap through its Clean Water program. Through the program, the organization has provided ceramic filters as an alternative to boiling to save fuel, hygiene workshops to educate locals on the importance of hand-washing and over 1,500 water wells.

The most notable part of the CCDO’s work is its water well repair program. The CCDO does not believe in building wells and does not consider the future damages to the wells. Instead, they provide a program that works to regularly examine, replace or fix worn wells.

In addition to the Clean Water program, the organization has also installed 600 latrines since January 2014.

Clear Cambodia

Formed in 2010, Clear Cambodia is a local NGO that recognizes the consequences of E. Coli infections. The organization emphasizes how they are a program run for Cambodians by Cambodians. The organization has impacted 2,527,628 Cambodians through its projects.

Clear Cambodia is famous for fighting against Cambodia’s drinking water Crisis through their household biosand filters. Biosand filters are an adaptation to sand filters found in nature as the sand and gravel remove pathogens and other solids from water. Biosand filters can remove up to 98.5% of bacteria from contaminated drinking water. Clear Cambodia has provided 339,662 biosand filters to households and an additional 1,547 biosand filters to schools. In addition to these filters, the organization has also allocated 236,140 handwashing tools,  installed 11,206 household latrines, implemented 1,539 handwashing stations and provided 212 wells.

A Better Future

As Cambodia’s poverty rates decrease, its drinking water crisis does not seem too far behind. Cambodia’s government is committed to reaching 100% coverage of rural sanitation services by 2025, as evidenced by a bold 14-year plan drawn out in 2011. With organizations like Water.org, the CCDO and Clear Cambodia doing their part to fight the drinking water crisis, there is great optimism that the nation will make it through this challenge in good time.

– Blanly Rodriguez
Photo: Flickr

Dry Chittagong Hill Tracts
Bangladesh’s topography mostly consists of low-lying, flat terrain. However, a notable exception is the Chittagong Hill Tracts. In recent years, this mountainous region has become increasingly water insecure due to deforestation, government neglect and torrid dry seasons. Fortunately, Hydram, a water pumping technology, provides a potential solution for the dry Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Chittagong Hill Tracts

Nestled in southeastern Bangladesh, the Chittagong Hill Tracts‘ forests, lakes and streams provide geographic diversity to the nation. Composed of mostly indigenous peoples, the region also provides ethnic diversity as well.

However, the Chittagong Hill Tracts’ 1.6 million people are incredibly water insecure. According to UNICEF’s 2019 report, the region has lower levels of access to water than the rest of Bangladesh. In 2013, 60.5% of Chittagong residents had access to potable drinking water compared to 97.9% of inhabitants of the entire nation.

Unfortunately, water disparity remains an issue as Bangladeshi authorities allocated the majority of funds of their Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) budget for FY 21-22 to urban areas, especially the capital, Dhaka. Thus, residents of the dry Chittagong Hill Tracts receive scant assistance from their government relative to their city-dwelling neighbors.

In addition to discriminatory government funding, another cause of the Chittagong Hill Tracts’ water crisis is the disappearance of the region’s forests. According to Global Forest Watch, in 2010, the hilly region had 135,000 Kha (521.2 square miles) of forest. By 2021, the region lost 919 ha (3.5 square miles) of woodland.

These dual crises have made water a scarce commodity in the dry Chittagong Hill Tracts. Thus, they have put on a burdensome human toll on the daily lives of the members of the region’s communities.

Voices from the Hill Tracts

Because of insufficient government funding and rising deforestation rates, the region’s main sources of water are running dry. Therefore, many members of the remote communities have to travel interminable distances to gather water.

Aungshaching Murma, a 52-year-old resident of the Rangamati district of the Hill Tracts, has “to walk two kilometres to collect water from the neighbouring village.” According to The New Humanitarian, the water collected from these long and precarious journeys are often impure. The water often causes illnesses because sewage has contaminated it.

Additionally, water security in the dry Chittagong Hill Tracts is seasonally dependent. Babli Tripura, a 19-year-old resident, said to Next Blue, “At this time of the year (the dry season), there is a severe shortage. The village women collect water day and night. It is very difficult to climb the high hills with the water (in pitchers and pots), but there is no alternative.”

During the dry season, water insecurity is especially acute. Women and children often have to gather water and thus are subject to onerous and dangerous conditions. Joshim Uddin, the male head of a family in the Hill Tracts, explained to The New Humanitarian that “Women and children are forced to fetch water from far and wide…Water is available from a nearby spring at other times, but it is not available during the dry season.” Fortunately, there is a potential solution for the dry Chittagong Hill Tracts: Hydram.

Hydram: A Potential Solution for the Water-Scarce Region

According to Dhaka Tribune, Hydram is the result of a collaboration between UNDP Bangladesh Accelerator Lab and Creative Conservation Alliance. It is a “hydraulic ramp pump system” Hydram designed for high-elevation areas like the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

In contrast to many traditional pumps, Hydram can lift water up to 600 feet, according to Dhaka Tribune. The technology also does not require any additional energy sources because it utilizes the energy produced from water traveling downhill. Thus, it is easy to use and environmentally friendly.

Hydram conducted its pilot program in the village of Matamuhuri. In addition to gaining a plethora of technical knowledge, the research team learned that community ownership of the technology was key to its success. As a result of this auspicious pilot project, the Hydram team is currently working on implementing the water pump system in additional villages, Dhaka Tribune reported.

A Promising Future for the Region

Hydram offers propitious signs for the future of the dry Chittagong Hill Tracts. In the case of successful implementation of hydraulic technology in the communities across the region, then the region has the potential to achieve high levels of water security.

With the combined efforts of Hydram and the Bangladeshi government, the residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts should gain access to sufficient water for drinking, sanitation, irrigation and daily chores. Therefore, a hopeful future for the region is on the horizon.

– Alexander Portner
Photo: Flickr

Global Engineering BrigadeEngineering students from around the world work with the Global Engineering Brigade and local communities to create clean water systems in areas that do not have access to them. College chapters travel to Ghana, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama to cater the water system to the community’s needs.

In Honduras, these efforts are needed more than ever as 5.7% of the population lacked access to clean water in 2021. The following year, Honduras’s capital Tegucigalpa also experienced a clean water shortage for its 1.5 million residents. Coupled with unsafe drinking sources, malnutrition and poor health care, there are increased fears of pneumonia, which is one of the leading causes of child deaths in the country.

Global Engineering Brigades

Global Brigades began in 2003 when Shital Vora, a physical therapist student at Marquette University recruited about 20 students to volunteer in Honduras. While students initially only delivered medical supplies, the scope of the program has since evolved. Global Brigades now also provides clean water, legal help and guidance on improving public health. During the pandemic, engineering students collaborated with communities over Zoom to help with clean water systems specifically.

Water Systems

Ongoing projects in five areas of Honduras continued post pandemic lockdowns. In cities such as Loz Izotes, residents’ primary water sources are local streams with untreated water. For this community, the only way to get sufficient water flow for everyone in the area is to build a well and install an efficient pump system. The location was assessed in 2016 and a water system is designed. However, a project partner is needed to bring the plan to completion.

Volunteering Process

The global engineering brigade has a five-step process for each water system project. Although it is typically a week-long trip, chapters strive to follow these steps to ensure clean water is presented to the community. Students and other volunteers first meet with community residents and leaders to assess current water sources and the community’s needs.

Once the assessment is done, Global Engineering Brigade engineers work with volunteers to design the project. They map the area, design the water system and create a budget that works with the community. With the project developed and the budget created, the volunteers present their findings to the community before they begin construction.

Volunteers also have the opportunity to visit previously completed projects to follow up and ensure it is operating correctly. The construction phase can take time due to funding. While volunteers are not expected to stay during the construction they can extend their trip if they want to.

Ongoing Projects and Future

While the pandemic temporarily changed the way the Global Engineering Brigade operated, engineering students are now back to work in person in 2022. At the beginning of the year, the University of Birmingham in England began to fundraise for their trip to Honduras planned for July 2022.

Similarly, Dalhousie University in Canada raised $30,093.34 for their trip to Honduras in May 2022. In 2021, the engineering students participated in a TeleBridage, helping communities virtually during the pandemic.

The University of Central Florida (UCF) in the United States is scheduled to travel to Honduras in May 2023. Students at UCF also joined the TeleBrigade in 2021 to help with the water access crisis.

Global Engineering Brigades worldwide continue to raise money and provide water systems to countries lacking clean water. As of 2019, 45 water systems have been constructed with the Global Engineering Brigade’s assistance.

– -Sara Sweitzer
Photo: Flickr

Effects of Water Pollution in Egypt
Since the days of the pharaoh, the Nile River has long served as the heart of the Egyptian community and provided 97% of the country’s water. However, currently, the Nile River is in a dire state due to massive strain from pollution and changing weather patterns. Being the lifeline of the nation, the state of the Nile River is not only symbolic of the current state of Egypt but all the water supply that runs through the city. The effects of water pollution in Egypt are now impacting the entire country and making it harder to access clean water.

Water Pollution in Egypt

To call the effects of water pollution in Egypt pernicious is an understatement, as the country has continued its struggle to access clean water. Being that most of Egypt depends on the Nile as its source of water, the fact that the river is being continuously contaminated with overwhelming amounts of items such as discharge, toxic chemicals, fertilizer residue, radioactive waste and oil pollution is truly horrific and dangerously deadly.

Another large cause of pollution in the water of Egypt can relate to certain Egyptian traditions. These customs include ridding their waste by casting it into the river while bathing and cleaning their animals in this same river water. These effects lead to mass breakouts of diseases, such as schistosomes, according to Save The Water.

In northern parts of Egypt, many citizens gain their water access from the Mediterranean Sea. However, according to Dr. Abu Alaa Abdel Moneim in his studies on the Mediterranean Sea, “720,000,000 tons of sewage, 142,000 tons of mineral oil, 66,000 tons of mercury, 4,200 tons of lead and 40,000 tons of phosphates” all end up in the sea, Save The Water reported. People then use this water for drinking and other daily activities, which can lead to illness, diseases and even death.

Facing Water Deficit

Another issue that plagues Egypt is its lack of rainfall. On average, Egypt receives less than 80 mm of rainfall a year and only 6% of the country is arable and agricultural land, with the rest being desert. The effect of this is large water wastage such as an outdated method of irrigation where farmers pump gallons of water over the crops.

The largest effect of water pollution in Egypt is the scarcity of water that it leads to. According to the 2021 UNICEF report, “Egypt is facing an annual water deficit of around 7 billion cubic meters to the mass pollution of Egypt’s water sources.” Later in the analysis, UNICEF stated that according to its projections, it is highly possible that the country could run out of clean water entirely by 2025. This would affect 1.8 billion people worldwide, who will be living in complete water scarcity.

Reaching a Stage of Water Poverty

In January 2022, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared that his beloved nation “has reached a stage of water poverty.” According to Mohamed Nasr al-Din Allam, who is a former Egyptian irrigation minister, “Water poverty, as defined by the World Bank, is when a country’s renewable internal freshwater resources per capita are less than 1,000 cubic meters annually.” This is the bare minimum to successfully meet the people’s needs for water and food. It has not been since 1991 that Egypt reported living with less than the minimum water share.

Although the current effects of water pollution in Egypt are dier, there are possible solutions that the government is implementing and are in place to assist the citizens. In August 2021, the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation revealed a four-step plan, which could assist in reducing the water crisis. The four-pronged strategy extends until 2050, with promises made to solve all water-related problems and effects of water pollution in Egypt, Al-Monitor reported.

With this plan in place, the water which flows through the Nile River appears a little clearer and the citizens of Egypt could soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief as well as drink a clean glass of water.

– Austin Hughes
Photo: Flickr

Clean Drinking Water in India
In India, despite the country being the second most populated in the world, less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water. This barrier brings a heavy toll. Aside from the humanitarian cost, UNICEF estimates that diseases from unsanitary drinking water cost India $600 million each year. Contamination of drinking water, as well as the depletion of natural groundwater, has plagued the Indian government’s attempts to expand water access to its citizens. The two main chemical contaminants of water in India are fluoride and arsenic. According to UNICEF, 1.96 million homes in India have chemically contaminated water. Although the United States has disbursed approximately $110 million to India in foreign aid, foreign assistance is not the only way India is hoping to combat water insecurity. JanaJal, a New Delhi-based water purification company, has made strides toward providing clean drinking water in India.

What is JanaJal?

A flagship initiative from Supremus Developers, brothers Parag and Anurag Agarwal launched JanaJal in 2013 with the mission to provide clean, safe drinking water in India. In its nine years of existence, according to its website, JanaJal has:

  • Provided more than 108 million liters of clean drinking water.
  • Eliminated more than 33 million single-use plastic through its Water ATMs.
  • Reduced water waste by conserving more than 60 million liters of water.

JanaJal prides itself on being “technology agnostic,” which means they are not bound to one specific technology to attain its goals. This allows the company to be flexible and cater to the needs of specific areas across India.

Clean Drinking Water in India

According to water.org, 91 million people lack access to safe water in India. Part of the issue is fecal contamination. Approximately 15% of the population in India openly defecates, which leads to fecal matter ending up in water sources. Additionally, 62% of Indian households do not treat their water, with treatment less common in rural areas. Waterborne illnesses infect roughly 37 million Indians each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In rural communities without access to water supplies at home, the burden of water collection often falls on the women of the families. In 2018, 40% of girls aged 15-18 were not in school, many of them burdened with housework and supporting their families, including the task of gathering water. Women empowerment is one of JanaJal’s four success metrics. In 2020, 40% of JanaJal businesses were women-owned, a statistic the company hopes to increase to 50% by 2024. JanaJal’s business model has helped empower women by allowing them to become entrepreneurs running local Water ATMs.

Water ATMs

Water ATMs are exactly what they sound like: an easy access point to vend safe water. In 2020, JanaJal had 755 water ATMs and safe water access points across the country. Each water ATM can dispense up to 15,000 liters of water a day. Additionally, the water ATMs can dispense water in a variety of amounts depending on the need. JanaJal’s newest initiative may be their most impactful yet as the company expands.

Water on Wheels (WOW)

Delhi, where JanaJal is headquartered, recently approved the implementation of seven Water on Wheels (WOW) within the Badarpur area. Water on Wheels is a custom-built electric vehicle with GPS technology to deliver water to the doorsteps of houses. WOWs have been quickly proving their worth, as they were one of five technologies that the Indian government recommended for its states and union territories to implement.

JanaJal’s impact on India’s water crisis is widespread. By providing access to clean drinking water, JanaJal has helped reduce waterborne illnesses, water contamination and plastic waste in the South Asian country. Though tackling India’s water crisis is a daunting task, JanaJal seems up for the challenge.

Emma Rushworth
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Move for H2O
Move for H2O is a Canadian fundraising initiative in partnership with HOPE International where volunteers can participate in activities to raise money for water-insecure countries. Move For H2O’s 10th annual campaign selected the Haitian region of Fon Batis to support 4,989 people in the area who must walk 3 km uphill to the nearest water source, the Marianne Spring.

Exercise for a Cause

Move for H2O organizes public and virtual athletic events across Canada that individuals or teams can participate in while fundraising. Participants registered for events like Bike in Edmonton, Run in Vancouver and Kickbox in Burnaby, all of which the organizer hosted. Others held their own athletic fundraising events from kayak paddling to dog fetching.

Throughout the weeklong event, volunteers are provided with a fundraising page. This way, friends and family can cheer them on while they work out. Move for H2O encouraged participants to move 6 km to match the distance the people of Fon Batis walk daily for water, according to its website.

Organizers at Move for H2O were excited to provide for the people of Fon Batis through the 2022 fundraiser. Haiti remains one of the world’s most water-deprived countries, with 3.3 million people lacking access to clean water. Additionally, World Bank reported that water access in Haiti has decreased from 62% in 1990 to 52% in 2015, likely due to deforestation and a lack of sanitation infrastructure in rural regions.

HOPE International describes clean water as “the catalyzing step communities take to end the extreme poverty.” The nonprofit designated this year’s fundraising campaign with the purpose of constructing a water system in Haiti. It will bring clean water from the Marianne Spring directly to the people in the 12 neighborhoods of Fon Batis, instead of the other way around.

This development could directly impact the health of people. It could improve living conditions for the women and children who trek over two hours across high and uneven terrain to the Marianne Spring, according to Move for H2O.

Move for H2O’s Fundraising Impact

This year’s fundraiser, which took place from June 10th to June 18th, raised $152,453 for Fon Batis. Move for H2O posted a Twitter update following the fundraiser, stating that the money will go toward digging trenches, installing tanks, laying pipes and assembling taps for the water system.

Six kilometers of piping will send water from the spring into four tanks, according to Move for H2O’s website. The water will flow into community taps in Fon Batis after a treatment plant filters it. The organization foresees “profound transformation” coming to Fon Batis, “because water changes everything,” Move for H2O said on Twitter.

HOPE and Move for H2O’s commitment to providing water to families improved the lives of more than 12,000 people. Over the last 10 years, the fundraiser has raised about $1.07 million which went towards various communities like the El Capotillo District of Dominican Republic and Talaxcoc, Guatemala. Move for H2O is a strong example of how compassionate and committed individuals can create lasting impacts for the communities that need it most.

– Evan Lemole
Photo: Pixabay

Water Scarcity
Multiple factors can cause water scarcity including “collapsed infrastructure, distribution systems, contamination, conflict, poor management of water resources, climate change and human interference” according to UNICEF. Water scarcity is common even in well-developed countries. Water scarcity limits access to clean water used for basic hygiene, cooking and cleaning.

The lack of water resources affects hospitals, homes, restaurants, schools and sewage systems. Additionally, water scarcity takes a toll on the economy because of its high value. However, it affects women and children more than anything. Women and children are the sole providers of water and often walk miles to retrieve it. Therefore, children are spending countless hours outside of school, exposing them to unsafe places and exploitation.

UN-Water Summary Progress Report July 2021

The U.N.-Water Summary Progress Report category of drinking water in 2020 stated that 26% of the global population or 2 billion people, did not have access to clean drinking water services. The sanitation category reported that 3.6 billion people or 46% of the global population lacked sanitation services with 494 million people openly defecating in 2020. Furthermore, 2.3 billion people lacked access to a handwashing system with soap and water in 2020. One final note from the hygiene category detailed that 44% of global wastewater did not receive adequate treatment in 2020.

The 2021 U.N.-Water Summary report also mentioned that there is inadequate research on the safety of our groundwater coming from lakes, rivers, streams, etc. Global water-use efficiency has only improved by 10% since 2015. The water stress category outlined that 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed areas in 2020. In the 2020 integrated-water management category, U.N.-Water detailed how 107 countries are not on track to have achieved sustainable water sources by 2030. From 2015 to 2019, there was only a 9% increase in international cooperation with 14 out of 109 countries participating in water and sanitation decision-making.

UNICEF Water Scarcity Key Facts

  • At least one month every year, 4 billion people, two-thirds of the world’s population, experience severe water scarcity.
  • In countries where water supply is deficient, 2 billion people may experience water shortages.
  • As soon as 2025, half of the global population could potentially reside in areas experiencing water scarcity.
  • In 2030, a proposed 7 million people could face displacement from water scarcity.

UNICEF Water Scarcity Response

While there are many reasons for water shortages, UNICEF is working to provide new technology that reaches countries where people are experiencing water scarcity in seven ways. As a first glance, UNICEF is working to identify new water resources through remote sensing, geographical surveys and field investigations. Also, UNICEF is striving to produce efficient water sources that “reduce water leakage and contamination promoting wastewater reuse for agriculture to protect groundwater.”

Furthermore, UNICEF is planning for future water scarcity needs. For instance, UNICEF is expanding technologies to support water sources that can withstand our changing climate. With this in mind, UNICEF is educating schools and communities on water scarcity. On a larger scale, UNICEF is preparing for “national water needs” for domestic, health and sanitation use. Lastly, UNICEF is “supporting the WASH sector” through creating online programs, technical guidance and manuals to improve standards for accessing water.

Organizations Helping People Reach Clean Water

Due to social and cultural inequality, women and children bear the brunt of water-borne illnesses. Hence, the reason organizations similar to The Water Project and Water.org exist. The Water Project has been providing access to clean water to remote villages located in sub-Saharan Africa since 2006. As of May 2022, The Water Project has reached 714,350 people with a 96% water flow status.

For the past 30 years, the founders of Water.org, Gary White and Matt Damon, have been offering financial solutions to the global water scarcity issue. It all began in 1990 when Gary White started helping Latin communities impacted by water scarcity. Later in 2003, their WaterCredit Initiative launched which enables Water.org to financially assist places affected by water scarcity. In 2009, Matt Damon joined the Water.org team as a co-founder. So far, Water.org reported having improved 45 million lives across 17 countries with access to clean water.

Looking Ahead

Thanks to the organizations and the dedication of U.N.-Water and UNICEF, water scarcity is becoming less of an issue. Hopefully, this issue will reduce, so that women and children may experience safety, good health and education without having to walk miles for water.

Kaley Anderson
Photo: Flickr

Harvesting Rainwater
Harvesting rainwater involves collecting and storing rainwater for future use. The uses of rainwater include drinking, bathing or cleaning. Because about 2.2 billion people around the world still lack clean water, harvesting rainwater is essential in collecting clean water. In India, about 54% of the subcontinent faces an extreme lack of clean water.

India’s Traditional Ways to Harvest Rainwater

India utilized the practice of harvesting rainwater for generations. Rural parts of India especially depend on harvesting rainwater to water crops, clean and do laundry and simply have something to drink.

One traditional rainwater harvesting method is surangas. It is one of the lesser-known methods of harvesting rainwater. It is mostly used in the Kasaragod district in the state of Kerala, which lies in the southeastern part of India on the peninsula.

Suranga is a type of horizontal tunnel in a hill. Waters flow through these tunnels into ponds. Suranga is a lifeline for the people in Kasaragod to meet their needs for drinking water.

Another common form of harvesting rain involves taankaas. Taankaas are underground tanks that serve as a reservoir. Taankaas provide water during times of water scarcity to 10,000 homes in the city of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarati near the Sabarmati River.

The Dangers of Harvesting Rainwater

Although harvesting rainwater is a simple and inexpensive method of collecting clean water, poorly maintained systems can be detrimental to users. Rainwater can flow over contaminated surfaces and collect parasites, bacteria and other harmful substances. The substances can cause diseases that would otherwise be avoidable.

The best way to avoid disease from rainwater is to use the water collected for cleaning or watering plants. However, since rainwater may be the only clean water source in India, citizens need to use it for drinking and cooking. The population in India can use a filtration system of chemicals to purify the water but sometimes they do not have the means to do so. Boiling the water is an inexpensive and simple way to quickly clean rainwater.

The Cost Effectiveness of Harvesting Rainwater

Despite the dangers of rainwater, it is still a safe and cost-effective method to collect clean water when used efficiently. The water collection depends on the area where people are catching the rainwater and the amount of rainfall in a particular region.

For example, a home in Delhi, India can catch up to 42,000 liters of water. With a terrace of 100 square meters and an average annual rainfall of 600 millimeters in Delhi, the 42,000 liters collected are twice as much as a family of five requires.

The installation of harvesting systems can occur at a low cost. If a family of five in Delhi can collect twice the amount of water it needs, the benefits outweigh the cost of installation and maintenance.

Although India suffers from water scarcity, innovative solutions including harvesting rainwater help relieve the stress of the water supply and provide safe, clean water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing.

Chris Karenbauer
Photo: Flickr