Imagine getting up every morning and walking miles just to get a drink of water. And what if that water, the only source of potable water in the area, was full of infectious bacteria? That is the struggle that Gertrude Namakon faced in Uganda, as do many others the world over. Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease, something developed countries with steady access to drinking fountains and faucets do not have to deal with.
However, organizations like Just a Drop are working to fix this. Founded in 1998 by Fiona Jeffery, Just a Drop has a simple goal of providing clean water to people who need it. The international aid charity focuses on funding individual projects around the world to help address water needs worldwide.
Improving access to water is important for a multitude of reasons, such as helping relieve poverty, female equality and education as well as saving the lives of children. Nearly 780 million people like Gertrude do not have access to clean water, and many must travel a significant distance every day to bring that unsafe water back to their homes for cooking, cleaning and sanitation purposes. In rural India, up to 22% of a woman’s day is retrieving water, taking time away from education and time away from making money through business or trade.
Just a Drop wants this to change. “Our main mission is to convey the message that just 1 pound or $2 can give one child clean water for nearly ten years; therefore if each of us gives a little then collectively we can make a huge difference,” says Fiona Jeffery. By raising funds from donations from individuals and businesses, they are able to fund projects to go to these rural areas. The projects are community based, building up both the structures like wells and fountains for the water, and also the maintenance and management structures to help out in the long term.
Just a Drop has helped 31 countries by funding over 130 projects worldwide. These projects in turn have helped nearly 1.5 million people, like Ugandan Gertrude Namakon. By building a well and water pump near her school, Gertrude doesn’t have to walk miles to reach drinkable water. “It will make a big difference to my life,” she says. “It will be wonderful to be able to get clean water from a well without being sick all the time.”
Jeffery says, “Life without water is an endless struggle but with it, so many things are possible.” If a child dies every 20 seconds due to unclean water, they do not get that chance. By both raising awareness about the issue, and funding the projects to fix it, Just a Drop is doing a lot to help out the too many people at risk due to unsafe, hard-to-reach sources of water all over the world.
To volunteer, or to donate, go to JustaDrop.org.
– Matthew Erickson