Top 6 Water NGOs in Latin America

A number of countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region are experiencing water crises which present an obstacle in achieving the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to clean water access by 2030. Fortunately, there are a number of organizations actively working to help them get there as quickly as possible. Keep reading to learn more about the top six water NGOs in Latin America.

Top 6 Water NGOs in Latin America

  1. Founded in 2007, Water Charity’s first project focused on improving the health of garbage dump workers by providing water filters in Guatemala City. Since then, the NGO has executed numerous water missions throughout 12 Latin American countries, among other projects worldwide. Each of its projects is innovative and tailored toward the specific needs of the communities in which they work. For instance, through the Dajabon Latrine Project in rural northwestern Dominican Republic, 110 families now have access to safe and sanitary latrines. Moreover, the initiative strives to educate families on the importance of health and hygiene given Dajabon’s poor education system.
  2. Living Water International in Mexico has been working to improve water access, hygiene and sanitation throughout the country’s poorest and often most rural communities. With operations spanning from water systems to hygiene education, the organization aims to focus on the marginalized regions of southern Mexico. Living Water’s “Lazos de Agua” program from 2013 to 2016 promoted WASH (“water, sanitation and hygiene) services to 68,000 beneficiaries in Oaxaca and Puebla. The organization’s projects, such as a new initiative to serve beneficiaries in 65 Mexican rural communities, continue to emerge across the nation and beyond.
  3. blueEnergy knows that the most efficient way to create change is through community consultation and working with local actors. Recognizing the context of a changing climate, blueEnergy has delivered water and sanitation to more than 30,000 people in marginalized regions of Nicaragua. Regarding a recently built water filter, Victorio Leon, a resident of Bluefields, Nicaragua only had positive feedback. “This filter has helped me economically and helped me avoid being sick a lot of the time… now we know we can drink this water with confidence.” Indeed, according to the World Bank, lack of water and sanitation results in a loss of 0.9 percent of Nicaragua’s GDP. Promoting health, and ultimately economic opportunity is among blueEnergy’s primary goals.
  4. WaterStep recognizes that making a true difference in developing countries requires planning for the long-term. For this reason, the nonprofit educates vulnerable communities on why and how to use safe water solutions such as bleach making as well as how to use WaterStep’s on-the-ground technologies. One of its ongoing projects includes that in Ecuador, which began following the country’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2016. Thousands of Ecuadorian survivors were misplaced and lacked any source of clean water. WaterStep responded to the situation by implementing water technologies and training people in refugee settlements on how to use this equipment.
  5. Water For People has targeted Honduras’ marginalized and rural regions such as Chinda and San Antonio de Cortés, since 1997. The NGO invests in public and private sectors alike to provide proper water and sanitation solutions. Since the nineties, Honduras has seen success not only in meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the percentage of people lacking clean water by 50 percent. Moreover, at least 84 percent of the rural population now have access to improved water. Grassroots efforts such as those by Water For People are making clear steady strides towards achieving SDG goal six: providing clean and safe water to all regions.
  6. Solea Water acknowledges the clear inequalities between rural and urban Panama. While Panama City has seen outstanding economic growth in recent years, in marginalized indigenous areas, extreme poverty affects nine in 10 inhabitants. Consequently, clean water access remains a critical issue in these regions. One of the organization’s many projects includes work in Sinai, Panama, where seven in 10 people lack safe drinking water. In addition to implementing a municipal water system which utilizes sustainable technologies to pump water, the organization has supported WASH education to locals. Solea Water’s goals of better health, education and overall improved standards of living within regions like Sinai are made a reality through the organization’s tireless dedication.

What Happens Now?

While access to water has improved in poor and marginalized regions in-line with the decrease in global poverty, disparities remain. These disparities are clear between regions, where 94 percent of citizens in the United States and Europe have access to safe drinking water compared to 65 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. Moreover, even larger disparities can be seen within a given region, such as the gap between urban and rural regions within Latin America. While 96 percent of citizens living in the Dominican Republic’s cities can obtain piped water, less than 25 percent of Dominicans in rural areas have this same access.

While the fight to universalize access to clean water and sanitation remains a pressing matter, these top six water NGOs in Latin America present the importance of civil society’s proactive planning, hard work and progress.

– Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr


Reasons to Increase Literacy Rates
When living in the U.S, it is easy to forget that being able to read and write is not something allowed to every person in the world. However, when it was discovered that approximately 32 million Americans could not read at a basic level, society deemed this as a crisis.

Comparatively, though, the crisis of illiteracy is much scarier in developing countries. The CIA World Factbook defines literacy as being able to read and write when older than the age of 15. Countries like South Sudan, Niger, Afghanistan and Ethiopia have literacy rates below 40 percent of their total population. These countries also happen to be the most poverty-stricken countries. This connection leads to the importance of listing five reasons to increase literacy rates.

Five Reasons to Increase Literacy Rates

  1. By being able to read and write, citizens can further develop their education. It is a given that if citizens want a great education, they will have to increase literacy rates. To do this, countries need to prioritize primary education so that the children that are already in school can get a good base. In a report from UNICEF on world education and literacy, it is stated that the focus on primary education had already boosted literacy rates that in turn boosts further education.
  2. Illiterate adults are more likely to fall victim to poor health and to have poor health care treatment later in life. World Atlas reported that there are around 493 million women who are unable or have difficulties reading text messages, filling out forms and reading their doctor’s prescription. If a person cannot properly read documents and prescriptions from a doctor, they might sign off on something without knowing what exactly it is. On top of that, they might not know what medications are good for them. Not to mention, without being able to write, it would be near impossible to keep track of past ailments or family history in the health care system.
  3. Literate adults are more capable of being able to take care of their children. Parents who have a basic education have an easier time making sure their children live to be over the age of five. This way, the cycle of poverty can be broken. Also, parents who have already seen the importance of having an education are more likely to push for their children to get the same level of education. Combined with previous reasons, parents who can properly read their prescription labels will be able to give children the right medicine and with a higher level of education, they are also more likely to have a steady job.
  4. Literacy is one part of the Sustainable Development Goal number four under UNESCO’s plan to reduce global poverty. The goal number four references equal education, affordable further education, widespread scholarships safe and non-violent locations for education and an increase of qualified teachers in each country.
  5. It is very plausible to increase literacy rates and it is producing great results in other countries already. In India, the computer-based functional literacy (CBFL) solution is providing free and remote education to rural areas and low-income areas around the country. It aims to teach children how to read, write and do math in approximately 50 hours. On top of that, the system focuses on teaching words rather than the whole alphabet. The typical participant learns around 500 words that are enough for him to navigate everyday life. More than 700,000 people have already benefited from CBFL in India.

These five reasons to increase literacy rates described in the article above showcase how being able to read and write can vastly improve someone’s life. Even if it does not fully bring them out of extreme poverty, these people will at least have the tools to make progress for themselves. Giving such tools is the least the world can do to help those in need and decrease the world poverty.

– Miranda Garbaciak
Photo: Flickr

Global Poverty GapAccording to Our World In Data, there is good news about the global poverty gap: it is falling. The global poverty gap index is defined as the “mean shortfall in income or consumption from the national poverty line.”

While many countries still face an extreme poverty gap, especially in sub-saharan Africa, this study shows that the gap is improving. Today, the global poverty gap is about half of what it was just ten years ago, and the total amount of resources needed to deplete that gap entirely is becoming smaller each year.

A large part of the poverty gap decrease is due to the “Chinese Effect.” The Chinese Effect refers to the great increase of wealth in China that is unparalleled to any other country. In 2014, China raised their GDP by nearly 49-fold, and took 800 million people out of poverty.

Our World in Data estimates that there is now 160 billion international dollars needed to eliminate the poverty gap for good by lifting people past the global poverty line of $1.90 a day. The United Nations is taking steps toward solving this issue, as their tenth goal in Sustainable Development Goal project is to “reduce inequality within and among countries.”

The targets for this Sustainable Development Goal include:

  • Achieve sustainable growth of income at the lowest 40 per cent of the population at a rate that is higher than the national average.
  • Empower and promote the inclusion of all in politics, the economy and society.
  • Increase equal opportunities and decrease the inequalities of outcomes, and adopt policies to achieve greater equality.
  • Higher regulations and enforcement on regulations in the global marketplace.
  • Create well-planned and well-managed migration policies to increase the mobility of people.
  • Give special treatment to developing countries, following World Trade Organization agreements.
  • Encourage flow of assistance to states that need it most.

If the U.N.’s objectives are met, and if countries send more aid to nations where the poverty gap is staggering, the gap may continue to decrease and, someday, become nonexistent.

Téa Franco

Photo: Flickr

The Global Learning Crisis and How the Social Gap Continues to WidenAccording to a World Bank report, there is a global learning crisis that is continuing to threaten millions of young students, and as the social gaps widen, the learning crisis increasingly becomes a moral and economic crisis as well.

This current report states that without learning, education fails to deliver on its main goal of eliminating extreme poverty and creating important life opportunities for all. Even after spending several years in school, millions still cannot read, write or do basic mathematics.

Globally, approximately 264 million lives are shy of achieving the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4), quality education for all. Some of the hardest hit by this global learning crisis are youths in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Sudan, as well as thousands of Rohingya children that were driven from their homes by the Myanmar government.

The report also notes that when leaders of countries make “learning for all” a national priority for its citizens, education standards can improve dramatically. South Korea is an excellent example of this. What was once a war-torn country with very low literacy rates achieved universal enrollment by 1995, and its youth performed at some of the highest levels when it came to international learning assessments.

Not all hope is lost, however. Some countries have decided to take action when it comes to combating the global learning crisis, and in particular, there is one region that happens to be facing the most severe cases of these challenges. Ghana’s government has been actively investing in its future and is completely on board with SDG4 by pursuing innovative strategies that will ensure girls, in particular, can continue their education.

In all, World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer states that “The only way to make profess is to ‘find the truth from facts.’ If we let them, the facts about education reveal a painful truth. For too many children, schooling does not mean learning.” Three factors that will work towards combating the global learning crisis include assessing learning, making schools work for all children and mobilizing anyone and everyone who has a stake in learning.

Sara Venusti
Photo: Flickr

Refugee Education Could End the Global CrisisNot only do refugees lack a stable place to call home, many also lack access to education. For 4.1 million refugees, their exile has lasted for more than 20 years, longer than a standard school career. Refugee education thus should not be overlooked when considering the long length of time refugees are displaced, limiting their lives and preventing them from achieving their fullest potentials.

With 6.4 million refugees of school age among the 17.2 million refugees under the mandate of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, education should play a major role in alleviating the refugee crisis. If implemented effectively, refugee education could expose young people to the knowledge they need to end the vicious cycle and help other refugees overcome their current obstacles.

Globally, 91 percent of children attend primary school, according to UNHCR. For refugees, that figure is only 61 percent, less than 50 percent in low-income countries. As refugee children get older, the obstacles only increase. A mere 23 percent of refugee adolescents are enrolled in secondary school, compared to 84 percent globally. In low-income countries, which host 28 percent of the world’s refugees, the number in secondary education is disturbingly low, at only 9 percent. These very low numbers of refugee children in school demonstrate the need to take action at all levels of education.

To support refugee education, 193 countries have signed the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, emphasizing education as a critical element of the international response. Furthermore, the ambition of Sustainable Development Goal 4, one of the 17 Global Goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and promoting prosperity, is to deliver “inclusive and quality education for all and to promote lifelong learning.”

However, planning for current emergency response and long-term needs is no easy feat. Refugee children must be included in national education systems. Refugees, like all young people around the world, deserve an education of value, so creating inclusive classroom environments that keep refugees’ backgrounds and experiences in mind is crucial. Also, educators working with refugees are often in overcrowded, under-resourced schools, working day after day in some of the toughest classrooms in the world. Teachers of refugees deserve support through suitable pay, the right materials in sufficient quantities and expert assistance. Keeping these priorities in mind, the New York Declaration and Sustainable Development Goal 4 can each fulfill their missions for improving refugee education.

Education gives refugee children a place of safety amid the tumult of displacement. It amounts to an investment in the future, creating knowledgeable people crucial to sustainable development in both countries that have welcomed refugees as well as in refugees’ home countries. Refugee education is a shared responsibility, and, while intimidating, is a goal worth working toward.

Allie Knofczynski
Photo: Flickr

prioritizing Global Education
In a report recently released by UNESCO, only 64 of the 157 countries tied to the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) met the 2015 deadline for complete accessibility to global education.

While the U.N.’s sustainable development goal on education (SDG4), launched last September, strives to achieve universal education for both primary and secondary levels by 2030, only 12 countries are expected to achieve its goal by 2030. The U.S. is not expected to meet the goal until 2040.

What is causing the delay?

According to the director of the global education monitoring report, Aaron Benavot, there are two primary reasons for the slow progress made in reaching targets set out by MDG and SDG4. Benavot cites continued political instability, conflict and economic as well as social inequalities as casual factors. In addition, the director also notes that aid is not being distributed equally or prioritized to those countries that may need it the most.

Mongolia has universal primary completion already, but received 15 times the amount of aid to education per child than Chad […], where only just a quarter of children are completing primary education,” Benavot explained to The Guardian.

Why is prioritizing global education important?

  1. If universal secondary education were to be achieved by 2030, there would be 20,000 fewer natural-disaster-related deaths over the next two decades.
  2. If all children had a primary education, as many as 700,000 cases of HIV could be prevented each year.
  3. Educating women would prevent up to 3.5 million child deaths between 2050 and 2060. According to UNICEF, educating a woman would also dramatically reduce the chance her child will die before the age of five.
  4. A country that has 10 percentage points more of its youths in schools reduces its risk of conflict from 14% to around 10%.
  5. According to UNESCO, if all students in low-income countries learned basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty, resulting in a 12% decline in global poverty.

Although funds may support greater accessibility to global education for millions of children as well as prepare them to contribute to their country’s economies, education’s impacts cross multiple sectors — health, mortality rates and international conflict. Education is the disguised powerhouse towards successfully eradicating poverty. Meeting the U.N.’s SDGs by 2030 should be the number one priority.

Priscilla Son
Photo: Flickr