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Clean Water to KenyaIt all began with a friend and a teammate. In 2008, while running for the University of West Florida, Chris Hough noticed one of his teammates wore a small beaded bracelet customized with the Kenyan national flag. The bracelet sparked Hough’s interest, and that teammate promised to bring Hough a bracelet when he next returned to Kenya. Unfortunately, that never happened.

Flash forward to 2015. Hough, who worked at Nike, was out on a run when he crossed paths with Paul Chelimo and Shadrack Kipchirchir, two notable faces among Nike runners. Both are members of the military’s World Class Athlete Program and went on to compete in the 2016 Olympics, where Chelimo earned a silver medal in the 5,000 and Kipchirchir finished 19th in the 10,000. On that day, both men were wearing beaded bracelets with the Kenyan flag, the same one that Hough’s teammate wore eight years prior. Hough stopped them, inquiring about the bracelets and eventually striking up a valuable friendship. From that friendship, ArtiKen was born. Now, ArtiKen connects passion with passion, tieing the running community with philanthropic change.

ArtiKen’s Impact on the Ground

Thanks to the notoriety of Chelimo and Kipchirchir, ArtiKen bracelets quickly became popular amongst runners of all ages and skill sets. Olympians, elite athletes and high schoolers alike wear ArtiKen bracelets. However, ArtiKen is more than just a popular brand in the world of running. It is also a company driving positive change by bringing clean water to Kenya.

Currently, 41 percent of Kenyans still rely on unimproved water sources, which are ponds, shallow wells or rivers. Accordingly, 19 million people lack access to clean water, and 27 million people lack access to improved sanitation. Only 9 of the 55 water suppliers in Kenya have the ability to supply clean water on a regular basis. In short, many Kenyans still struggle to find clean water on a regular basis, especially those in rural areas or urban slums.

ArtiKen is striving to help solve the water crisis by bringing clean water to Kenya. The company donates 10 percent of every purchase to clean water initiatives throughout Kenya. The idea was to give back to those who in Kenyan communities because, without them, the company would have never existed. ArtiKen also employs members of the Massai tribe, helping these artists earn a steady income and provide for their families.

ArtiKen Connects Multiple Passions for One Cause

On Medium, Hough writes, “…giving those athletes the opportunity to show support and love through our jewelry is exciting, but more importantly, the ability to provide clean water to those in need is the foundation to our company’s mission— to help eradicate poverty and provide clean water in Kenya one day at a time.”

ArtiKen allows for runners to change the world through a single purchase. The company strives to create a positive impact on both local Kenyan and running communities. Through their simple, yet elegant bracelets, ArtiKen connects passion with passion, by bringing distant communities closer to one another to celebrate both art and athletics and by bringing clean water to Kenya.

– Andrew Edwards
Photo: Google Images

Women and WaterOver 600 million people struggle to access clean water for drinking and sanitation worldwide. While for many this is a communal problem, the burden of finding and collecting water often falls onto women. In developing nations, gender inequality becomes apparent when observing water management within communities. Women are responsible for this vital resource, yet often excluded from larger water management decisions. Engaging women in community water management solutions empowers them and establishes greater equity in developing communities.

The Burden of Water

Women and children bear the majority of the burden when it comes to water collection. Every day, they collectively spend almost 200 million hours locating and obtaining water for their communities. Over 50 million more hours are spent searching for sanitary places to relieve themselves. Hours devoted to collecting water take away time from education, employment and family. Additionally, in some areas, water scarcity is so severe that women have to settle for dirty and contaminated water for drinking, cooking and cleaning, exposing them to water-borne diseases and parasites.

Providing sources of clean water and sanitation to women in developing nations has the potential to do much more than reducing health risks. The hours women and children reclaim when they get access to clean water in their homes or villages can instead be used to pursue higher education, start small businesses or even grow food for their families. One study conducted by UNICEF in Tanzania found that cutting down the time needed for collecting water from 30 minutes to 15 increased rates of girls attending school by over 10 percent. However, since women are rarely actively included in the process of supplying and financing water management solutions, their perspectives are not addressed in the long run.

Access to Clean Water’s Impact on Women

When women get the opportunity to elevate their responsibility for water beyond collection and into management, their potential can blossom. Water.org features stories of the impact access to clean water can make on the lives of women. In India, they found that women are often forced to collect water from outside their communities due to a lack of funds for installing water taps near their homes.

This inspired the creation of WaterCredit, a service providing affordable, short-term loans going towards constructing taps that offer long-term access to clean water in developing communities. Women like Manjula make up nearly 90 percent of borrowers, reducing the need to travel so far outside their communities to obtain water. This gives them the time and energy needed to manage personal businesses, which earn enough income to easily repay the loan from WaterCredit. Water.org reports that WaterCredit provided around 4.6 million loans, amassing a total value of 1.7 billion dollars, demonstrating what a feasible and impactful solution this service offers.

Emmitt Kussrow
Photo: Flickr

Accessible Drinking Water
Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is an organization of 16,800 volunteers who hope to give worldwide communities the opportunity to sustainably meet basic human needs. They install footbridges to accommodate travel, solar panels to facilitate energy and light and, in a world where one in 10 people don’t have accessible drinking water, Engineers Without Borders is implementing technology that can help. Here are six places where EWB is bringing water to those who need it most.

Cyanika, Rwanda
This northern community rests near the country’s border with Uganda, and for many villages, the closest accessible drinking water is kilometers away. Women and children make multiple trips to collect water, and when they arrive they must pay for their water, often leaving them with the decision of choosing between hunger or dehydration. They wait in line, sometimes only to realize that the well is dry. Engineers Without Borders has installed three unique community rainwater catchment systems, two single tank systems and one system of four tanks in the larger town of Munini. In Gasebeya and Nyarotosho, the single-tank systems save an average of 11 hours that would usually be spent collecting water. The saved time leaves community members with opportunities for raising more livestock and developing more income, and the saved income and time also means that they can maintain the systems on their own.

Mugonero, Rwanda
Along the western border of Rwanda, Mugonero was hit incredibly hard by the 1994 genocide, with 3,000 people killed in the community. Rebuilding continues slowly but surely in this small community accessible only by a small dirt road of switchbacks. Engineers Without Border worked with L’Esperance, a local NGO in Mugonero, and despite the NGO closing in 2013, EWB’s efforts in the region have been maintained for years and continue to benefit the community. Engineers Without Borders installed three rainwater catchment tanks, a UV water treatment system and an irrigation system that drastically improved the conditions of accessible drinking water.

Amayo, Nicaragua
In Nicaragua, 800,000 people do not have access to safe drinking water, leaving 37 percent of rural communities reliant on contaminated sources. EWB partnered with Potters for Peace, a U.S. nonprofit that uses clay pottery techniques to create water filters, to install 30 water filters. Accessible clean water means safer health conditions for the community, which uses the clay filters for both drinking and cooking. In addition, Potters for Peace educated locals (often rural women) on how to reproduce the water filters. This element of community engagement left Amayo highly self-sufficient and far healthier.

Jinotepe Hogar de Ancianos, Nicaragua
The Hogar Board of Directors, a local municipal body, benefitted from the reserve water system installed in Jinotepe by gaining the respect of their community. The reserve uses gravity in a 2,500-gallon tank to bring a fresh water supply to the community. Unfortunately, the tank itself has been in need of repairs since 2015, but the community feels that the current emphasis on health and the faith in the Hogar Board would be impossible without the EWB project. Accessible drinking water is now a priority of the community, thanks to the (albeit temporary) system provided by EWB, and the Board of Directors has a new confidence and dedication to provide it. Funding will remain a challenge.

Pueblo Nuevo, Nicaragua
Reaching clean water required long and frequent trips for the community members of Pueblo Nuevo. Engineers Without Borders cite the benefits of their integrated water distribution system as providing men with more time to tend to crops, children with more time to make it to school, and women with the liberation from five to six daily trips to the river. The distribution system does rely on rainwater, and so the impact it has can vary from serving 150 to 350 people. It pumps water from a hand-dug well to a holding tank, which then is distributed to three different districts. The rationing and maintenance required to benefit from the distribution system mean that the community has not only benefited from increased accessible drinking water but from increased community organization.

Guatemala
Seventeen projects are in the “implementation” phase in Guatemala, and 15 are considered “complete,” but most are still under review to evaluate their impact. The involvement of Engineers Without Borders in Guatemala is incredibly concentrated on potable water projects. These efforts comprise 58 percent of EWB’s Guatemala Project. At least five systems are considered functioning, each reaching between 350 and 1,500 people depending on the size of the community. The largest system involves 26 kilometers of pipe, and the projects have brought flowing water to every tap in the community. In addition to putting this infrastructure in place, the Guatemala projects focused on whether it was necessary to introduce a circuit rider (water technician) to the community to maintain the system. As implementation continues with new systems, Engineers Without Borders has placed an emphasis on training for pump maintenance, so that Guatemalan communities can be self-sufficient and continually have accessible drinking water.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr