Water SecurityThere are 326 million trillion gallons of water on planet earth. However, only 1% of that is clean and accessible. This means there is enough water for everyone on the planet and more. Nonetheless, 1 in 5 children still do not have basic water security.

Lack of Water Security Hurts the Poor Most

Globally, 80 countries harbor children living in regions considered to have low water security. The poorest children are the most likely to live in these regions. Of the top ten most affected countries, nine are in the poorest continent on earth: Africa. A staggering 58% of children in Eastern and Southern Africa face a difficult path to get water on a daily basis. In some regions, families have to travel for up to 30 minutes to get water at all. Consequently, the lack of water security increases the risk of dehydration and takes time away from families who could be working. The risk for water deprivation is also increased, which is lethal. Furthermore, impoverished children face another issue related to poor water security.

An Infectious Problem

In regions with poor water security, bacteria and viruses often contaminate the water. Water contamination leads to diarrheal illness, taking more children’s lives than many of the most common causes for death. It is the second leading cause of death for children worldwide. The illness causes the person affected to lose so much fluid that they die from dehydration. In total diarrheal infections take the lives of 525,000 children each year.

The Water Packet

Water security is a concerning problem that industry giant P&G has been tackling one liter at a time. In 2004, P&G initiated its Children’s Safe Drinking Water program, a revolutionary initiative based around a simple yet effective invention called a purifier of water packet. Created by company scientists, it has the ability to transform 10 liters of dirty water into crystal clear drinking water in thirty minutes. First, the four-gram packet is placed in dirty water and then the whole container is stirred thoroughly. During the stirring, any particles in the water group together into thick clusters. Then the stirring ceases and the particles are allowed time to settle at the bottom. Throughout the whole process, the packet disinfects the water from contaminants. Lastly, the water is run through a cloth which catches the remaining particles and all that is left is drinkable water.

Brittaney Stapleton, Volunteer Relations Coordinator at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical garden informed The Borgen Project about her time at a P&G event where she was shown a demonstration of the packet. She said that during the event the attendees were taken to a beautiful piece of land with a murky brown reservoir of water. “I wouldn’t have touched that water with a ten-foot pole,” she remembered. “So they opened the packet and I don’t remember exactly how long they had to do it but they just stirred with a big stick and after a period of time, the water was crystal clear. There was no debris. It was crystal clear and it looked like something you would see in a Brita filter. Just clear.”

Looking Towards the Future

Throughout the lifetime of the program, a total of 18 billion liters of water have been purified, with P&G planning on purifying billions more in the future.

Brittaney added that they geared the demonstration towards showing people how easy it is to change lives. “It made you feel that much better to know even if you could only give a little bit it’s making a huge impactful difference. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be a millionaire, you can be just middle of the road and you can still help.”

– Cole Izquierdo
Photo: Flickr

Convoy of Hope - Borgen Project
Convoy of Hope, founded in 1994 by the Donaldson family, is dedicated to helping those in need. It’s a simple and ambitious goal. To meet it, efforts concentrate on six areas of interest.

Community Events

In the United States, the organization partners with local businesses to provide the community’s poor with a “poverty-free day.” What is a poverty free day? A day which people receive free meals, access to health and dental care, job-placement services and family portrait sittings. The services depend on three things: the input of the partners, the needs of the community and the skills of available volunteers. In 2013, volunteers served more than 120,000 “guests-of-honor”.

Rural Compassion

Like in many places around the world, rural communities in the United States are hit hardest by poverty. By training pastors and community leaders, Convoy helps to spur on positive change.

Children’s Feeding

Convoy of Hope feeds more than 145,000 children in 11 different nations across Africa, Central America and the Philippines. Aware that the meal they provide is the only one some children get, every attention is paid to nutrition. The Convoy carefully monitors the health of each child enrolled in the program. Trying to create healthy living environments, Convoy teaches proper hygiene and sanitation. By collecting and purifying water, and distributing filtration systems, they hope to promote water security.

Agricultural Development

A relatively new Agricultural Initiative is being piloted in Haiti. There, nearly 3,000 farmers trained in applicable agricultural science and crop management, according to their economic and geographic situation. Crop yield has increased among Convoy-trained farmers exponentially. Black bean planting, in particular, is up by 100 percent.

Disaster Services

Working with over 200 partners, Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Response Team aids in both domestic and international disaster relief. They determine relief effort needs and assess the efficacy of Convoy volunteers on the field. These volunteers, grouped in teams, unload supplies from shipments made by their World Distribution Center. Convoy commits to the total recovery of communities, so feet remain on the ground for months, sometimes years.

Women’s Empowerment

Nearly 70 percent of people living in poverty are women. Giving them the chance to earn an income is a significant step towards reducing that poverty. So Convoy provides training to women in Ethiopia, Tanzania, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Philippines. With financial and educational support provided by Convoy, women can start their own businesses. Those in the “Mother’s Clubs” attend sessions on nutrition, health and literacy. Younger girls have access to programs on relevant topics like self-esteem and gender based violence.

By the sheer number of functioning programs run by Convoy, it is obvious that the organization is well established. Volunteers with a multitude of skills serve in many different capacities. Still, their purpose remains to aid those struggling, whenever and wherever they need help.

– Olivia Kostreva

Sources: Convoy of Hope Community Events, Convoy of Hope Children’s Feeding, Convoy of Hope Disaster Services, Convoy of Hope Agriculture, Convoy of Hope Women’s Empowerment, Convoy of Hope Rural Compassion, Charity Navigator, FeedOne
Photo: Dew Foundation

AECOM has announced that USAID has granted the organization a $18.7 million contact to implement the Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability Program in the Philippines. The program known as “Be Secure” will aim to achieve improved access to water services and more-resilient communities. To do this, AECOM will partner with the government of the Philippines to promote good governance and expand water security.

Over the next four years, AECOM will work with WaterLinks, a Philippine non-profit that forms peer-to-peer partnerships between water services providers, to implement the Be Secure Project. It plans to support local stakeholders, advance wastewater-treatment service delivery, improve sustainable water supply, increase resilience to climate-related water stress and hydrological extremes.

“We are excited to provide an innovative technical approach to help respond to urgent water-security challenges in the Philippines,” said AECOM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John M. Dionisio. “We developed and tested this approach over the last 15 years implementing USAID-funded water services, climate change and environmental projects in country.”

AECOM is a provider of professional technical and management support services to a wide range of markets, including water, energy, environmental, facilities, transportation, and government around the globe. The company provides solutions to create, sustain and enhance the world’s built, natural, and social environments.

Ali Warlich

Sources: AECOM

USAID’s New Global Water StrategyOn May 21, 2013, USAID issued a new global water strategy, the government’s first comprehensive integration of water security into all US development funding and programs.

“For many years in development work, water, sanitation and hygiene have been a bit forgotten. Instead, significant focus has been placed on education, maternal health and nutrition, overlooking the fact that water and sanitation are foundational building blocks for all of those other elements,” said Alanna Imbach, media officer with WaterAid America.

Aid organizations have long been insisting that access to clean water is a basic and essential consideration underlying all development issues. In developing countries, some 5,000 children are estimated to die every day from water-borne diseases, overwhelmingly due to diarrhea from bad drinking water, poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene.

The plan for the next five years is to provide at least 10 million people with “sustainable access” to an improved water supply, and six million people with access to improved sanitation during that period. New USAID guidance will emphasize local ownership and sustainability of US-funded aid projects while offering greater flexibility on how that funding can be used. This new openness will allow for more innovation from partnering humanitarian groups, a positive change from the past.

“We know that every dollar we invest in clean water and basic sanitation yields eight dollars in benefits,” said Dick Durbin, a US senator pushing this legislation. “People are healthier, kids stay in school, food is safer, AIDS drugs and other critical health treatments are able to work.”

Read USAID’s Water Strategy Announcement:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah, joined members of Congress – Senator Richard Durbin, Senator Chris Coons, Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Congressman Ted Poe – to release the U.S. Government’s first Water and Development Strategy. This strategy recognizes the vital role water plays in ensuring the health and economic well-being of people around the world.  In addition, it sets out to represent a fundamental shift at our Agency toward a new model of development – defined by public and private partnerships, the use of new technology, and emphasizes long-term results.

Globally, over 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people lack access to sanitation. Projections are that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under severe water stress conditions.

“We will achieve greater impact by partnering with outside organizations and businesses that leverage innovative approaches and new technologies. This approach will also emphasize sustainability by building local capacities for operations, maintenance, and monitoring,” said Administrator Shah.

USAID’s Water and Development Strategy elevates the importance and visibility of water as a development priority within the Agency and highlights its importance in meeting the development imperatives to improve health and increase food security. The Strategy will address global water-related development needs by providing a clear understanding of USAID’s approach to water programming, emphasizing how sustainable use of water is critical to saving lives. To achieve this goal, the Strategy sets two strategic objectives:

  • Water for Health – Improve health outcomes through the provision of sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
  • Water for Food – Manage water for agriculture sustainably and more productively to enhance food security.

“This new U.S. Water and Development Strategy will help lift poor people around the world out of conflict and poverty.  It is smart, strategic and builds on our past successes using new breakthroughs in science and technology,” Senator Durbin said. “It will save water and it will save lives.  USAID’s new plan will bring water and sanitation – the most basic of human needs – to millions of people around the globe, dousing the flames of global poverty, disease and conflict.”

Improving human health and welfare, having adequate nutrition to thrive, and maintaining the sustainability of natural systems requires a coordinated global response to the challenges of water and sanitation access for present and future generations. This Strategy reflects the commitment of the U.S. government to work in partnership with the global community to meet these challenges.

– Mary Purcell
Photo: Flickr

Buy one get one free, limited time sales, 20% off; these are all common sales terms that we see everyday. Promotions, something to give a customer that extra incentive to purchase a product, simple sales strategies. Well, what if that promotion involved saving lives? Drop 4 Drop is doing just that.

Drop 4 Drop is a non-profit that teams up with businesses and individuals to help balance their water use by creating innovative business offers. One example is the upcoming promotion that has been organized between Drop 4 Drop and Airconergy. March 22nd was International World Water Day, a United Nations created day, that encourages people to focus on the importance of fresh drinking water and water security in the world.

Airconergy has pledged that they will give the funds needed to build a new freshwater well for every 100 of their HVAC chips that they sell that day. Each well would be able to provide water for an estimated 2,000 people. Conscience marketing has been done before, and it is huge. Fair trade product like coffee and jewels are good examples, but this sort of promotion takes that one step further. Some may say that this sort of “promotion” is simply good advertising and business savvy. Granted that it may not be the exactly the same thing as simply building a number of wells, but it is a fantastic move within the for-profit world to help people living in severe poverty. So, if you need any HVAC chips…

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: Beaumont Enterprise

Asian Development Bank Reports on Water SecurityThe Asian Development Bank (ADB) turned out a study on Wednesday about water security and the accessibility of quality water throughout Asia. The study’s results proved to be both alarming and, at the same time, encouraging.

Access to clean water is an important issue all around the developing world. Yet even when there is access to useable water sources, the wealthier countries have the cleanest water and best water delivery and sewage systems. In the last twenty years the progress made in Asia as a whole has been astounding, with nearly 91 percent of all regions experiencing greater access to clean water today. The ADB claims that no member country has a sufficient water security plan. While water accessibility has increased, the threat of natural disasters could seriously affect the drinking water of every Asian country. The high frequency of water-related natural disasters throughout Asia such as floods, tsunamis, and landslides creates instability for those in charge of protecting water supplies. The recent study claims that access to clean drinking water throughout Asia has improved from about 74 percent in 1990 to 91 percent in 2010.

The ADB is glad to see that the region overall continues to make such significant progress but the fact that almost four-fifths of Asia’s major rivers have been declared in poor sanitary health is cause for concern. The urbanization of the continent’s population along with unchecked pollution may worsen the current situation and reverse the progress of the last two decades if the problems are not addressed by regional governments and conversationalists. Hopefully, with more hard work and good leadership, the positive trend of increased water access will continue.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: Flickr