In industrial nations with established water purification and sanitation systems, people often take their ability to turn on the tap and drink a glass of clean water for granted. The reality is that nearly 1 billion people around the world do not have access to clean water and this is a serious problem.
Eighty percent of disease in developing countries is due to bacteria, worms and other organisms found in the unclean water that one-eighth of the world uses. Water-borne diseases are one of the top killers of children under 5, causing one in five deaths worldwide. In addition, an estimated 433 million school days a year are lost to sickness, caring for the sick or fetching water, all of which further perpetuate the poverty cycle. Fortunately, water is a solvable problem.
With the work of dedicated and forceful water NGOs and local governments, clean water has the potential to reach everyone around the globe. Here are some organizations that do particularly effective work.
1. Charity: water
Charity: water was founded by Kevin Rose in 2006 as a way of putting some direction into his life. Its overall mission is to bring clean drinking water to rural areas of developing nations. Charity: water also recognizes that women in developing nations may have to walk miles to get water for their families, and that the water they bring back often has disease carrying organisms. With this in mind, Charity: water aims to build water purification and gathering systems in local communities so that clean water is readily available.
Charity: water achieves its goals by appealing to the local needs and skills. The organization fully funds, supports, trains and aids the target community in building sustainable, easy to run and simple to maintain water collection projects. In addition, Charity: water does extensive research on the target community to establish which project would be most effective for the locals’ needs. The organization then helps design plans and builds systems, including hand-dug or drilled wells, rainwater catchments and water purification systems. Charity: water gets clean water to needy communities by establishing a system for water collection, building it and teaching the locals to use it. The organization then monitors its success and maintenance. Charity:water has found great success, with thousands of projects in Africa alone, and others in Central and South America and South Asia.
2. Global Water
Global Water is based off the understanding that a lack of access to clean drinking water is the cause of much of the world’s hunger, disease and poverty. Its goal is to build permanent and sustainable sanitation facilities and clean water access to promote health, knowledge and hygiene in developing nations.
Global Water takes several approaches to reach its goals, most of which rely extensively on partnerships with local NGOs and governments. The company realizes that it is most effective as a support for the local installation and implementation of programs rather than a group that parachutes in, builds a system on its own and leaves.
Therefore, Global Water works with local groups to design an effective project, provides equipment, expertise and assistance in the building process, and inspects and monitors the project. This significant partnership with local groups makes Global Water unique and its projects lasting and effective.
Global Water has been involved in successful well drilling projects in Africa, building everything from hand washing stations to spring catchments in Central America.
3. The Water Project
The Water Project aims for better water programs rather than a large number of unsatisfactory ones. The campaign believes that the local community should dictate what method is used to ensure that the program is enduring and life changing. As a result, The Water Project insists on taking community feedback every step of the way.
The Water Project has worked in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Uganda. While this is a more limited range of regions than other organizations of similar type, The Water Project focuses on sustainability and success rather than creating a vast array of defunct programs, and a limited range supports this work model. On top of building structures like wells, sand dams and rainwater catchment devices, The Water Project also aims to educate the local community on water safety and hygiene.
In fact, education is a fundamental part of the organization. The Water Project process starts by teaching local people about how proper sanitation and hygiene relate to health. In addition, The Water Project focuses on getting the community involved by providing support for the project, either through labor, money, food for workers, etc. Then comes the installation of the project, during which The Water Project helps get permits and dig wells. Lastly, the company conducts a final education on the new system and proudly hands over a new water system and chance for a better life to the local community. Throughout the following years, The Water Project continues to monitor and maintain its projects to ensure their lasting success.
Overall, NGOs and campaigns that provide clean water to developing nations are often the same in their final product, like the wells and lavatories they install. But each has its unique outlook on the problem and its own reputation in local communities. Without the combined efforts of these organizations and more like them, water safety around the world would be an insurmountable challenge. But because of the success of companies like Charity: water and The Water Project, it is becoming more and more possible for the world to have access to clean water and effective sanitation.
— Caitlin Thompson