On Jan. 22, actor Matt Damon along with Stella Artois and co-founder Gary White announced their first global social impact campaign. The initiative, called, “Buy a Lady a Drink,” aims to raise awareness to the global water crisis and help provide solutions.

When Damon heard that the United States Congress had passed into law the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act, he praised the U.S. government for its commitment to ending the crisis for the world’s poor.

“In order to solve some of the biggest challenges we face, such as ending extreme poverty, we know we must address and finally end the global water crisis for billions around the world,” Damon told USA Today in an interview about the campaign.

Damon was so dedicated to supporting his cause on water that he used toilet water to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, an activity that involves dumping a bucket of ice and water on a person’s head to raise awareness for a disease.

Stella Artois has also donated a total of $1.2 million to to help the new campaign and has invited the rest of the world to join the cause by putting limited-edition Chalices up for purchase on Amazon.

Purchasing one of the three glasses, each with a different pattern modelling art specific to Ethiopia, Honduras and India, will allow the nonprofit organization to provide five years of clean water to one person in the developing world.

Both and Stella Artois encouraged people to buy the chalices in hopes that it will spread awareness about the cause.

The campaign got its name due to the fact that women across the world spend a combined total of 200 million hours each day collecting water. This impacts women’s productivity hours and increases the likelihood of them encountering dangerous situations during those long walks.

“Buy a Lady a Drink aims to help put a stop to these water-collecting journeys, so women can start new journeys of their own,” said Damon.

The global water crisis affects a majority of women because they are often the ones who provide supplies for their families. Damon and attempts to tell stories of women around the world who collect water to raise awareness.

The charity has surpassed its goal of providing two million people with safe water and sanitation, allowing women to become more productive, and keeping children safe from health issues.

The campaign will help the 3.4 million people who die each year from water, sanitation and hygiene-related causes; most of these are preventable diseases.

Allowing access to obtaining safe, clean water can significantly improve the lifestyle of those living in remote areas.

In September, the United Nations will reveal the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals—a global agreement to pursue new goals that will allow the world to alleviate global poverty, battle inequality and build a more sustainable planet.

Addressing the global water and sanitation crisis is significant in achieving these goals.

Damon will continue to support and promote the new campaign to help the 750 million people around the world who lack access to safe water. Both the organization and beer company hope that their partnership can make a change.

– Sandy Phan

Sources:, Women’s Earth Alliance,  USA Today,  Unwater

Photo: Flickr

The dawn of 2015 not only means a new year, but also a new legislative session for the freshly initiated 114th Congress.

In this new legislative session, old anti-poverty bills that died in committee last year have a chance to be reintroduced, and other new foreign assistance bills are being introduced for the first time.

One newly reintroduced bill is H.R. 57: The Equal Rights and Access for the Women of South Sudan Act. The bill, introduced on Jan. 6 by Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, promotes the belief that much more U.S. assistance is necessary in South Sudan, particularly with regards to women’s prosperity.

The bill aims to channel greater portions of U.S. relief assistance to local South Sudanese groups, particularly Sudanese women’s organizations, as well as increase women’s access to land, water, agricultural inputs, credit, and property, among other goals.

On Jan. 9, California Representative Barbara Lee introduced House Concurrent Resolution 6, which promotes the belief that the U.S. should annually dedicate at least one percent of GDP for nonmilitary assistance programs.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US currently spends approximately $31 billion, or 0.19 percent of GDP, on nonmilitary foreign assistance annually.

The concurrent resolution would require majority approval from both houses of Congress, but would not require approval from President Obama.

A handful of other anti-poverty bills either died in committee last year, or passed one house but failed to go past committee in the other.

One such bill was the Global Food Security Act of 2014, which authorized a new U.S. foreign assistance strategy to reduce global hunger and improve nutritional outcomes in developing countries. The bill passed the House last September but died in committee in the Senate.

The House Electrify Africa Act, which promoted greater access to electricity and renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa, saw a similar fate last year. The bill passed the House last May but never got past a committee vote in the Senate.

Nevertheless, it is not unusual for failed bills to be reintroduced and passed in a new session. The Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014 promoted revisions to a 2005 act of the same name that provided greater access to clean water for over 2.5 billion people worldwide. The revised bill was first introduced in 2011, and was reintroduced every year thereafter until it was signed into law in December 2014.

– Katrina Beedy

Sources: Government Tracker 1, Government Tracker 2, Government Tracker 3, Government Tracker 4, Government Tracker 5, The Borgen Project, Slate, Water Aid, U.S. Congress
Photo: Digital