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In many rural communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa, hundreds of people are unable to access safe, clean water, suffering from several different diseases and illnesses as a result. Relying predominantly on women and girls to walk miles away from home to collect water – dirty water that makes them and their families sick – the communities are gender biased and women are not considered as important as men.

Unclean water and gender inequality limits the potential of many people and communities, and contributes to the cycle of extreme poverty.

The Water Project, however, is determined to change this. A nonprofit organization that brings sustainable water projects to communities in sub-Saharan Africa, The Water Project provides those communities with access to clean water and the means to maintain proper sanitation.

Admirably, the organization seeks to instill hope in suffering communities by making clean water the norm. Clean water improves health, breaks down poverty and supports education.

Lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation, however, is the primary reason that girls drop out of school. They spend valuable learning time walking to streams or ponds to gather water, only to eventually drink it and get sick. The Water Project, however, empowers girls by bringing safe, clean water to their communities.

In addition to improved health conditions, clean water strengthens opportunities for quality education. Access to safe water ensures that girls remain in school, which opens the door to future careers and earned wages. Because women reinvest up to 90 percent of their income back into their households, compared to 40 percent by men, this is imperative.

The efforts of The Water Project have inevitably taught communities to see the value of women and potential of girls. It has unlocked a generation of leaders. Education provides endless opportunities, but clean water liberates, encourages and inspires.

Sarah Sheppard
Photo: The Water Project