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Water Transport in Low-Income Countries
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50 percent of the world’s population will live in water insecure areas by 2025. Around the world, about 2.2 billion people do not have safely managed water sources. This forces them to travel 30 or more minutes to get water and creates missed opportunities for those who have to take time out of their day to travel for water. Companies have created innovative solutions for water transport in low-income countries. Here are four facts about water transport in low-income countries.

4 Facts About Water Transport in Low-income Countries

  1. The WHO and UNICEF estimate that women and children fetch water for around 71 percent of households without a water source at home. This creates a disadvantage to women and girls who hope to go to school and work in the future. Studies have also shown negative physical effects on the body from constant water carrying. Individuals often have to carry much more than they can handle for 30 minutes or more on the journey home. People in these situations experience missed opportunities because of physical or mental fatigue, as well as time lost due to water collecting. A study that Jo-Ann Geere and Moa Cortobuis conducted found that the time to retrieve water ranged from 10 minutes to 65 minutes. They also may repeat this journey time multiple times per day depending on how much water they need. New ways of water transport in low-income countries are integral to the welfare of women and children in these communities.
  2. The Hippo Roller is an invention helping with water transport in low-income countries. The rolling water devices can carry up to 90 liters of water at a time and remove the need for heavy lifting. The device can last up to 7 years on rural terrain and provides a non-strenuous method of moving water from source to home. This innovative invention has made carrying water easier for around 500,000 people and the company hopes to continue to grow its outreach to more vulnerable communities.
  3. Communities continually attempt to shorten the travel distance from house to water source by building water services closer to living areas. The organization Water.org created a system called WaterCredit for people to take out microloans to install wells or sanitation facilities. The ability of homeowners to create their own source of water eliminates the need to transport water at all. The organization helped 27 million people so far in 16 countries and continues to expand on innovative ideas to bring clean water and sanitation to low-income communities.
  4. Another organization working to eliminate the need for water sources outside the home is Charity: Water. With a focus on local development, the organization takes an individualized approach to each community. It believes that by providing training and technology to local communities, individuals will have the knowledge to continue long-term maintenance on projects while expanding to new ones. The organization has empowered more than 11 million people through the funding of around 51,000 projects.

While these four facts about water transport in low-income countries show that water collection can be a challenge for many in the developing world, there are efforts to make water transportation easier. Through continued innovations like the Hippo Roller and efforts by organizations like Charity: Water and Water.org, water access for developing countries should become easier going forward.

Ashleigh Litcofsky
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Rwanda
Rwanda is a developing country located in central Africa. After a genocide left Rwanda in extreme poverty, the country is fighting to improve living conditions and life expectancy. Here are seven facts about sanitation in Rwanda.

7 Facts About Sanitation in Rwanda

  1. There are not enough wells in rural areas of Rwanda. Millions of women and children choose to walk over three miles a day to collect water for their families in order to sustain themselves. Most nearby water sources have experienced contamination. In the year 2000, 45 percent of the population had access to safely managed and basic drinking water. The number has now risen to 58 percent with the help of organizations like The Water Project and Charity Water to build wells.
  2. Waste management solutions can be simple and effective. Rwanda is turning the fecal waste from latrine pits into fertilizer and selling it to farmers. This is preventing the collection of the waste in ponds that later flood back into the communities during the rainy season.
  3. In 2000, just over 1 percent of the Rwandan population had proper handwashing facilities. Organizations like UNICEF have been working on educating communities about the importance of handwashing with soap. Its tactics include media campaigns and outreach programs. It increased the number of Rwandan’s with proper handwashing facilities to 5 percent of the population in 2017.
  4. Washing hands is one of the most effective ways to fight diseases that poor sanitation causes. One of the leading causes of death in Rwanda is diarrheal diseases, which is responsible for 8 percent of all deaths among those under 5 years old. This is easily preventable in any country when its citizens receive proper WASH education.
  5. Rwanda’s government signed agreements in 2019 with the African Development Bank to receive a loan of $115 million to support water infrastructure within the country. This has been one of the latest steps since the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development called for a focus on water and sanitation. The United Nations adopted this agenda in 2015 with its sixth goal being to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”
  6. Young girls miss school every month while menstruating. This is due to many Rwandans considering menstruation taboo, leading to a lack of resources and education. The Sustainable Health Enterprise (SHE) is offering programs that distribute eco-friendly pads and Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) training after school. Additionally, SHE’s campaign for menstrual hygiene awareness reached nearly 1,000 students in eight schools in 2013. Moreover, it reached 4.3 million people throughout the country in 2019.
  7. Sanitation in Rwanda is improving. With the recent COVID-19 outbreak, Rwanda continues to provide new ways of sanitation for its people. In March 2020, the country began installing hand-washing stations at bus stops in the capital of Kigali to prevent the spread of the virus.

Proper sanitation is necessary for economic development. Access to clean water and education on basic hygienic practices directly affects the rest of a country’s ability to thrive. Many cost-benefit analysis studies show that poor sanitation leads to a larger economic loss. As a result, developing countries should put preventative measures in place.

Molly Moline
Photo: Flickr

Professional Athletes Who Grew Up Impoverished
The world’s population of human beings is vast and immensely complex. Across the planet, thousands of different languages, religions and traditions contribute to the everyday lives of its people. However, nearly all civilizations have one thing in common: sports. Since the development of the most ancient civilizations, humans have created numerous ways to come together and pass the time with recreation. It continues to be a major aspect of society today, so much so that athletes such as Argentinian soccer player Lionel Messi receive as much as $127 million per year. It is no secret that professionals like Messi are some of the highest-paid individuals in the world, but many of them had extremely difficult upbringings. Here are four professional athletes who grew up impoverished and used their past as motivation for the improvement of their future.

4 Professional Athletes Who Grew Up Impoverished

  1. Pelé: Pelé, one of the greatest soccer players of all time, has helped his Brazilian team win three World Cups throughout his career. He was born in Três Corações, Brazil, in 1940. He lived in extreme poverty during his childhood and developed most of his early soccer skills by playing with a makeshift bundle of rags that hardly resembled a soccer ball. Pelé’s story is a prime example of how a common cultural element such as recreation has the power to propel someone into an entirely new way of life. In 2018, Pelé launched a self-named foundation “to help children of the world better their lives as people in [his] childhood helped [him] to better [his].” The Pelé Foundation has since partnered with Pencils of Promise and Charity: Water to fulfill its mission of helping the world’s impoverished youth.
  2. Bibiano Fernandes: Bibiano Fernandes, also known as “The Flash” for his ability to finish fights so early, is one of the most successful fighters in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and mixed martial arts (MMA). He was born in Manaus, a city located near the Amazon rainforest. After his mother died and his father abandoned the family, 8-year-old Fernandes took to the jungle as a means of survival. He lived off of the land for approximately two years before returning to the city. Once he went back to Manaus, he worked as a window washer. During this seemingly hopeless point in his life, he met a group of men who practiced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They accepted him into their training group and he grew into a champion. For a child who took to the forest to avoid starvation, the grappling sport was a lifeline, an opportunity for Fernandes to quite literally fight his way out of poverty. Today, he aims to reach retirement and continue to provide for his wife and children. He prides himself on having worked hard for his accomplishments and encourages his fans to pursue their goals regardless of how impossible they may seem.
  3. Yasiel Puig: Yasiel Puig has played for three major American baseball teams: the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cincinnati Reds and now the Cleveland Indians. His nickname is “The Wild Horse” because of his unpredictable, exciting way of playing. Born into poor conditions in Cuba, Puig developed an interest in baseball at a very early age. His desire to escape his hometown and play for Mexico resulted in a journey that would change his life forever. At the age of 21, Puig snuck out of Cuba on a cigarette boat. What should have been a relatively smooth journey became complicated by the fact that the smugglers did not receive the pay they were to receive for transporting the baseball player. Restless and angry, they held him captive, occasionally threatening to cut off an arm or a finger so that he would never play baseball again. Several long, difficult weeks passed before Puig finally reached his destination. A staged kidnapping ambushed his captors and soon landed Puig at his audition to play for Mexico City. Puig proves that no matter how treacherous life’s ventures may be, the child inside remains alive and strong enough to push one forward towards their wildest dreams.
  4. Kassim Ouma: Kassim Ouma has one of the most unique stories among these professional athletes who grew up impoverished. He was born in Uganda and lived in extreme poverty until the age of 6 when his life abruptly flipped upside down. It was at this age that the National Resistance Army kidnapped Ouma, a militant force revolting against the Ugandan government. The resistance forced him to fight as a child soldier until the war ceased roughly three years later. Once he returned home, he began working to build a better future for him and his family. He took up boxing and trained his way to the Ugandan national boxing team, and later decided to stay in the U.S. after visiting for a tournament. Ouma serves as an example to all that even the darkest beginnings can lead to light at the end of the tunnel. He now uses his influence to advocate for change in Africa and runs a charity organization called Natabonic, which helps to fund education for his friends and family in his home village of Maga Maga.

These professional athletes who grew up impoverished serve as reminders that with hope and compassion, one can fight (and win) even the most impossible battles. Of course, not every starving child on the planet is going to become a world-renowned athlete and sports will not lead all participants out of poverty.  However sports can be a path to a better life and these stories emphasize that recreation brings people together, and where people come together, anything is possible.

– Harley Goebel
Photo: Flickr

Typhoid Fever in Asia
Typhoid fever is a menace to developing nations, especially those that lack access to proper sanitation facilities. Nowhere is this more problematic than in Asia, where most typhoid fever fatalities occur. However, plenty of groups are doing their part to end the scourge of typhoid fever in Asia through the spread of clean water and proper sanitation.

What is Typhoid Fever?

Food and water contaminated with excrement that contains the bacteria Salmonella enterica causes the transmission of typhoid fever. Due to this, typhoid fever was once incredibly prevalent in urban areas throughout Europe and the United States during the 19th century as these countries frequently lacked sound sewage systems to deal with human waste. In the modern era, people only commonly see typhoid fever in the developing world, specifically in areas with poor sanitary conditions.

Common symptoms of typhoid fever are a sustained fever that can peak at around 103-104˚F, fatigue, bowel issues, wheezing and stomach pains. Typhoid fever risk factors in endemic areas include contaminated water, housing with subpar hygiene facilities and contact with a recently infected individual. Those affected can become chronic infectors, people who have on and off symptoms for extended periods and can transmit the disease to others regardless of if they are having an episode or not.

Typhoid fever has been treatable with vaccines since 1948, and mass immunization has proven successful in the past. However, typhoid that is resistant to the most common type of treatment (chloramphenicol) is now emerging. With approximately 16 million cases of typhoid fever reported each year, a treatment-resistant strain is a horrifying prospect. Thankfully, full resistance to treatment is exceedingly rare.

Why Asia and Who is Helping?

Most typhoid fever deaths happen in Asia, where 90 percent of all typhoid related deaths occur. Countries, where typhoid fever in Asia is endemic, include India, China, Vietnam, Pakistan and Indonesia. A significant factor contributing towards the spread of typhoid fever is a lack of sanitary water facilities, and thankfully, NGOs like Charity: Water have made it their mission to bring clean water to all developing nations.

Charity: Water does this by promoting and financing projects aimed at the creation and distribution of sanitary water facilities like latrines, hand-dug and drilled wells and piped water systems.  One of the countries that Charity: Water has had a significant impact on is India. The organization has been working there since 2008 and has funded 4,479 projects with a total of $10,738,062 spread across all these projects.

The Future of Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever was once a prominent issue in the United States and Europe, but with proper water and waste management systems, they have thoroughly eradicated it. Typhoid fever in Asia is a problem that countries can handle through the creation of clean water facilities. With the help of NGOs like Charity: Water, the world can finally eliminate typhoid fever once and for all, not just from the United States and Europe, but all across the globe.

– Ryan Holman
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Mali
In 2020, the country of Mali will celebrate its 60th anniversary of independence from French colonial rule. However, since 1960, Mali has had a tumultuous history filled with numerous civil wars, coups and failed revolutions. Despite these setbacks, Mali is making strides to improve the quality of life for its citizens. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Mali.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Mali

  1. According to the CIA World Factbook, the life expectancy of a citizen of Mali is 60.8 years on average or 58.6 years for males and 63 years for females. This puts Mali at a rank of 206 out of 223 countries for life expectancy. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Mali will explain why.
  2. Mali reported 43 births per 1,000 people in 2018, the third-largest figure in the world. Many expect the country’s population to double by 2035. This has led to overcrowding in the capital city of Bamako. In response, the World Bank has begun to invest in the infrastructure of Malian cities via performance-based grants for communities.
  3. Despite this massive population growth, Mali suffers from extreme infant and child mortality, which adversely affects life expectancy in Mali. In 2015, 114 out of 1,000 Malian children died by the age of 5. Recently, organizations like WHO and UNICEF have begun to sponsor community case management initiatives that focus on improving health conditions in impoverished areas. Areas where these initiatives occurred, such as Bamako’s Yirimadio district, have been able to reduce child mortality rates to up to 28 deaths per 1,000, about a quarter of the national rate.
  4. In Mali, the maternal mortality rate is very high. The U.N. estimates that there are 630 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. This is partly because only one in four births in Mali have someone with proper birthing training, but deep-rooted societal attitudes that restrict women’s rights may also be a cause. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, an organization fighting against maternal mortality in Mali, child marriage and female genital mutilation are both common in Mali, which both cause higher risks to the mother during birth. The organization has called upon the Malian government to “meet its national and international commitments and take the necessary steps to reduce maternal mortality.”
  5. The leading cause of death in Mali is malaria, which accounts for 24 percent of deaths in the country. To address this, the Malian government has partnered with global organizations such as the CDC to distribute anti-malarial medications during the country’s late autumn rainy season, in which most cases of malaria appear. This partnership was established in 1995 as part of the CDC’s global initiative to stop diseases in other countries before they can reach the U.S.
  6. Illnesses that often stem from a lack of access to clean water, such as meningitis and diarrheal diseases, cause a significant number of deaths in Mali. Twenty-three percent of the population of Mali overall and 35.9 percent of the rural population lacks access to clean drinking water, and 78.5 percent of rural Malians lack access to proper sanitation. This leads to the spread of the diseases mentioned above. An organization called Charity Water has invested over $9 million to give rural Malians access to clean water and sanitation by building wells and pipe systems, allowing Malians to tap into the country’s rich aquifers for clean drinking water.
  7. Malnutrition causes 5 percent of deaths in Mali. According to the World Food Program, 44.9 percent of the country live in poverty, which is a significant cause of food insecurity. To combat this, programs like the World Food Program have been working on distributing nutritious meals to Malian families, as well as setting up long-term programs to create infrastructures such as roads and dams.
  8. HIV and AIDS cause 3 percent of deaths in Mali. Although HIV infections in the country have risen by 11 percent since 2010, deaths from the disease have gone down by 11 percent in the same period. Efforts by the CDC and other organizations have focused on treating HIV to prevent victims of the disease from going on to develop AIDS, as well as improving blood safety measures.
  9. Mali suffers from a significant shortage of physicians, with 0.14 physicians and 0.1 hospital beds per 1,000 people, compared to 2.59 physicians and 2.9 beds in the U.S. Despite that, the country has recently taken significant steps forward on providing universal health coverage via a $120 million initiative from the government, which will focus on training more doctors, broadening access to contraceptives and improving care for the elderly.
  10. Eighty percent of Mali relies on agriculture for a living. Although Malian farmers have been fighting soil degradation and lack of access to modern equipment, initiatives like Feed the Future have been working to improve conditions for Malian farmers. As a result, Mali poured $47.34 million into its agriculture industry in 2017.

As these 10 facts about life expectancy in Mali show, life expectancy in Mali is significantly lower than in other parts of the world, but the country is making strides forward to combat illness and poverty. With help from the global community, Mali is moving forwards towards a brighter future.

– Kelton Holsen
Photo: Flickr

nonprofits that provide clean waterClean drinking water is a necessity that many in developed countries rarely ponder about. Yet, for more than 780 million people around the world, clean drinking water is a luxury that is difficult to access. Because of this widespread lack of clean water, more than 3.4 million people die every year from causes related to poor water and sanitation. Nevertheless, there are many nonprofit organizations that have made it their mission to address this global clean water crisis. Here are five nonprofits that provide clean water to the world.

5 Nonprofits that Provide Clean Water

  1. Charity: Water – One of the most widely known nonprofits that provide clean water to the world is Charity: Water. Scott Harrison founded the organization in New York City in 2006 after he witnessed the life-threatening effects of contaminated water in Liberia. Charity: Water is a nonprofit that brings clean and safe drinking water to developing countries. It has funded 38,113 water programs in 27 developing countries for more than 9.6 million people in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Throughout the past nine years, the organization has dug more than 16,000 water projects, set new standards for donor engagement and public communication and raised more than $200 million from donors. Every penny of Charity: Water’s donations go directly to clean water technologies.
  2. Blood:WaterBlood:Water is a nonprofit that has partnered with grassroots organizations in sub-Saharan Africa to bring clean water and HIV/AIDS support to African communities since 2004. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the organization was founded by the multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning band Jars of Clay and activist Jena Lee Nardellaone. Blood:Water provides an array of solutions for different African community’s needs. In addition, to providing HIV/AIDS community care and support and capacity building for its African partners, Blood:Water provides water, sanitation and hygiene solutions, such as wells, toilets and handwashing stations. This organization has worked with more than a dozen African grassroots organizations and has brought clean water to one million people in 11 different countries.
  3. Water.org – When actor Matt Damon and Gary White merged their organizations, H2O Africa and WaterPartners, they formed Water.org in 2009. Its headquarters is currently in Kansas City, Missouri. Water.org provides access to safe water and sanitation in developing countries. It works with local partner organizations to build wells and provide thorough training seminars on the importance of good hygiene practices and its link to better health. Water.org created the WaterCredit system as a long-term solution, which provides household sanitation and safe water by giving expert resources and small loans. This organization works in 13 countries and has provided safe water and sanitation to more than 21 million people. Its commitment to providing safe water and sanitation to everyone is why it has great ratings and is ranked in the top 10 percent of global charities in regard to its financial accountability and transparency.
  4. Lifewater International – As the oldest organization on this list of nonprofits that provide clean water to the world, Lifewater International was established in 1977 by William A. Ashe. Headquartered in San Luis Obispo, California, Lifewater’s mission is to “end the global water and sanitation crisis one village at a time.” It focuses on managing training sessions for field staffers in fields such as water treatment, sanitation, community health through hygiene, well drilling, hand pump repair, effective community development and WASH in schools. This organization takes great pride in its transparency and accountability and performs systematic checks on projects even after they are completed. Since its inception, Lifewater has helped 2.5 million people across 45 countries.
  5. Generosity.org – The final organization on this list of nonprofits that provide clean water to the world is Generosity.org. Philip Wagner founded the organization in 2008 with a commitment to “providing clean water for drinking and sanitation needs, one community at a time.” It is headquartered in Valley Village, California. Generosity.org collaborates with its local partners to utilize their knowledge and expertise to select the proper water solution for each region. These solutions include rain-harvesting systems, wells and spring protection systems. To date, Generosity.org has helped 470,000 people, funded 813 water projects and served 20 countries.

Unclean water is an issue that still needs to be solved in many developing countries. The above list describes some of the most widely known nonprofits that provide clean water to the world. Like many of the other crises the developing world faces, the work of these and other organizations may make the global water crisis an issue of the past.

– Jacob Stubbs
Photo: Flickr

Important Poverty Nonprofits
The world is full of people trying to do good, some of whom are well known and acknowledged for the work they do. Many change-makers, however, fly under the radar and do not receive the recognition they deserve for the profound changes they have generated. Some important poverty nonprofits have been working to mitigate poverty and disease worldwide for years, and they are the ones who could benefit greatly from volunteers. The following are five groups whose efforts should not go unnoticed by the world.

Five Important Poverty Nonprofits

  1. Mothers2mothers – This group focuses on alleviating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa while empowering women and mothers living with and/or around the disease. Africa is lacking heavily in healthcare workers. Mothers2mothers is an important poverty nonprofit that hires and trains HIV-positive women to fill these roles, thus providing them with the opportunity to gain financial security for their families and giving the community access to much-needed healthcare. Through this method, thousands of jobs have been created and hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved.
  2. Partners in Health (PIH) – Founded in 1987 by world-renowned doctor Paul Farmer, PIH has made great strides in eradicating life-threatening epidemics, such as multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, in third-world countries. PIH focuses on building lasting healthcare systems in countries that are severely lacking and providing this service to the poor, who would not typically be able to afford it. To do their incredible work, PIH relies heavily on donations.
  3. Kiva – Kiva is a nonprofit that provides low-income, entrepreneurial women and students with loans to start their own small businesses. They described their mission as “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.” Kiva has proven that even small loans can create lasting change in the lives of those who need it. Recipients of loans through Kiva have gone on to build small businesses that allow them to support their families and stimulate the economy of their communities.
  4. Charity: water – This is a nonprofit that works to provide clean drinking water to developing countries. Charity: water uses donations to build wells that would eliminate the need for people to walk miles away to get to a water source. They also provide sand filters and rainwater catchments that promote cleanliness in drinking water, which helps to lessen the spread of disease in impoverished communities.
  5. Concern Worldwide – This organization focuses on long-term solutions in third-world countries. Concern Worldwide responds to emergencies like environmental disasters and genocide. Their past projects have included providing food and nutrition to the starving after the 1973 Ethiopian famine. They are currently working with Syrian refugees in The Middle East.

These five are just a few of many important poverty nonprofits that work to make a positive change in the world, no matter how small. Contributions to groups like these have the ability to create a ripple effect in the lives and communities of those who truly need it. Getting involved can come in any form from promoting the causes online to volunteering time to help with projects. When it comes to making a change, there is no contribution too small.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr

Right to Water
In July 2010, the United Nations recognized and made a stance that clean water and access to sufficient water is a right for every human being. It has been eight years since the stance was made, and many since have asked: how far has the world come in regards to ensuring better water quality to every human being?

Right to Water

In 2010, there were 2.5 billion people worldwide who didn’t have access to proper sanitation and clean drinking water; eight years later, the figure stands at 2.1 billion people. By no means small, this improvement serves as a positive omen and beginning for a future of continued progress.

But complete improvement in water quality, unfortunately, doesn’t just happen overnight. There are currently at least 2 million people around the world whose water source is contaminated with feces. Although there are many organizations who have stepped up to help those in developing countries regain their right to water, here are three programs and initiatives that have made significant impacts on the current water crisis.

WASH

WASH is a program run by the World Health Organization (WHO) that stands for WHO’s focus on different aspects of water, sanitation and hygiene. The mission of WASH is to provide leadership in water, sanitation and hygiene by making statements, influencing policy and coordinating and collaborating with others.

The services from WASH can reduce healthcare-related infections, increase trust in provided services and increase efficiency in aid provided in healthcare institutions. Today, many facilities lack WASH services — 38 percent don’t have an improved water source, 19 percent don’t have improved sanitation and 35 percent lack water and soap for hand-washing.

The most recent campaign by WASH and WHO — “It’s in your hands. Prevent sepsis in healthcare” — educated others on how quickly sepsis can spread through poor hand hygiene. This education is extremely needed as roughly 30 million people deal with this organ disfunction around the world.

Water.org

Water.org is a non-profit that provides local water projects with local water partners in various countries. One of the key ideas of water.org is to have the communities responsible feel like owners of the specific project. Water.org strives to have the community involved in every aspect of their projects.

Water.org has reached 13 countries, including Honduras. In this nation, water.org reached 14,000 people who are in need of either safe water or improved sanitation. This non-profit is currently working on the construction of a community water system, and health and hygiene education in Honduras. By focusing on these goals, more than 3,600 people in two different Honduras communities will gain access to clean water.

charity: water

Using 100 percent of all public donations to fund water projects, charity: water has funded 28,389 water projects for 8.2 million people around the world. Charity: water’s  efforts have given these people their right to water, and have also funded water programs in 26 countries around the world.

The organization also has a variety of solutions they offer to communities who don’t have access to clean water, including rainwater catchments, water purification systems, hand-dug wells and bio-sand filters.

No matter where or who, good or bad, each person around the world is making some sort of impact on the current water crisis. From littering to pouring cooking oil down the drain, daily actions can have substantial impacts on rivers and waterways in local communities. While there are many organizations that provide funds and support to those without clean water, there are many ways an individual can help with the current water crisis. Here are five ways that water quality can be improved in local communities.

Five Ways to Improve Water Quality

  1. Don’t put anything in storm drains, this includes grass and tree clippings.
  2. Don’t pour grease down drains.
  3. Properly dispose of pet waste.
  4. Appropriately dispose of fluorescent light bulbs and automotive fluids.
  5. Never litter.

It is important for each and every person, no matter where they are, to do their part to maintain safe and clean water, and to always remember that the right to water applies to everyone.

– Victoria Fowler
Photo: Flickr

Access to Clean Water
Many communities in Latin America lack access to clean water transported through piped infrastructures and water problems have been the source of much strife. Water in Bolivia made international news in 2000 when the country’s municipalities were privatized, causing costs to skyrocket and leading to four months of violent riots in Cochabamba.

Fortunately, recent movements have been more peaceful. They often take a community approach to change, transforming one neighborhood at a time. Three projects in three different Latin American countries have given communities reliable access to clean water.

Maria Auxiliadora in Aguilares, El Salvador

Ninety-eight percent of El Salvador’s water is contaminated. A growing movement is working to legislate access to clean water as a human right. In the meantime, one community has taken matters into its own hands.

Sixty percent of Maria Auxiliadora’s population used to lack clean drinking water. People were forced to pay high prices or rely on polluted water, all of which had to be trucked in. Franciscan foundation Tau partnered with the Association Foundation for Cooperation and Common Development in Salvador (CORDES) to change that. The organizations built a safe well that is maintained by the community’s 50 families, each of which has a water meter and pays for the amount it uses.

Alto Buena Vista Barrio in Cochabamba, Bolivia

The arid city of Cochabamba is making headlines again but this time in a positive way. While water transportation in Bolivia has improved, poorer neighborhoods don’t have access to piped water yet. Many are forced to rely on truck deliveries, facing constant shortages and contamination problems. The supply they receive is barely enough for drinking, let alone washing.

In southern Cochabamba, the people of Alto Buena Vista have decided to take matters into their own hands. Following the example of Maria Auxiliadora, El Salvador, they plan to build a well and use a similar metered system.

La Mosquitia, Honduras

La Mosquitia’s water sources are also polluted, causing widespread illness. Rain collection only provides relief for a season, and good wells are difficult to build because of contamination and brackish water. Two organizations, Charity: Water and the Arlington Rotary, have been building biosand filters to help. These systems filter water using sand and decomposing organic material. While there is still work to be done, the community’s plight has improved significantly.

While achieving countrywide access to clean water in Bolivia, Honduras and El Salvador is a work in progress, the three communities above are experiencing a better quality of life. Hopefully, they will pave the way for others to trade inefficient and ineffective methods of water transportation for clean and reliable ones.

Jeanette I. Burke

Photo: Flickr

hip nonprofits
With all the nonprofit organizations out there that work to alleviate poverty and combat climate change, it can be hard to choose which one to donate your time or money to. Here are seven hip nonprofits that you can consider donating to:

1. Earthjustice

Founded in 1971 as the Sierra Club Legal Fund, Earthjustice is a nonprofit law firm that works to protect our global earth. It has provided legal representation to more than 1,000 clients and all of its services are provided at no charge. Its three main priorities are promoting clean energy to combat global warming, protecting the health of communities and preserving wildlife and special areas.

2. Girl Effect

The Girl Effect was created by the Nike Foundation in partnership with the NoVo Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and Coalition for Adolescent Girls. Girls play a crucial role in global development. When girls are included in economic development, health and education, there is a better chance to alleviate poverty and prevent HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy and child marriage. This campaign is about empowering girls and providing them with resources. Its website is pretty cool, too: Girl Effect’s home page uses a video to state their message, mission  statement and what the viewers can do to support it.

3. Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit organization responsible for Sesame Street and so many more education television shows. Its projects provide valuable lessons in respect, understanding, health and literacy to children in more than 150 countries. Sesame Workshop’s mission is to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. Its recipe for success is combining a curriculum that addresses children’s critical developmental needs with the sophisticated use of media and a large dose of fun.

4. Charity: Water

Founded in 2006, Charity: Water is a nonprofit organization that brings safe and clean drinking water to developing countries. Charity: Water’s goal is to eliminate diseases from unclean drinking water, and it has helped fund almost 7,000 projects in more than 20 countries. The organization has partnered with ONA products to produce a camera strap in which a percentage of the profit goes to Charity: Water.

5. Greenpeace

Greenpeace is the largest direct-action environmental organization in the world. Its goals are to promote peace and defend our earth by protecting our oceans and ancient forests and working to stop global warming. Climate change causes natural disasters that negatively affect food production, hindering efforts to reduce poverty and advance economic development. Greenpeace believes that alleviating poverty can be done without hurting the Earth. The environmental organization is determined that providing clean energy is essential in the fight to improve health and education and to reduce poverty. Greenpeace exposes and confronts the environmental abuse that is detrimental to lives around the world, while supporting environmentally-friendly solutions.

6. ONE

ONE is an international advocacy organization that works to alleviate poverty and preventable disease. ONE raises awareness and works with political leaders to demand greater transparency, increase investments in nutrition and agriculture and fight AIDS and other preventable diseases. ONE works with activists and policymakers to oversee the use of foreign aid, combat corruption, improve economic development and encourage poverty-reducing efforts. Their teams in Johannesburg, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, London, New York and Washington, D.C. lobby and educate governments to help shape policy decisions that will improve and save millions of lives.

7. Shining Hope for Communities

Shining Hope for Communities is a nonprofit organization that works to promote gender equality and alleviate poverty in the Kibera Slum, one of Africa’s largest slums in Nairobi, Kenya. SHOFCO provides free education for girls as well as poverty alleviation and empowerment programs. The organization provides health care, meals, access to clean water and toilets, school supplies, uniform and counseling to girls that attend The Kibera School for Girls. SHOFCO also provides services to the Kibera community through their community center in order to provide healthier lives for girls and their families and to inspire the community to commit to change.

– Colleen Moore

Sources: Alternative Press, Girl Effect, Sesame Workshop, Peta Pixel, CBC News, ONE.org, Global Giving
Photo: Animation Magazine