If you have a twitter feed or spend a lot of time on facebook, you’ve probably seen several mentions that today is World Water Day.
If you live in a developed nation, you probably don’t think about your water much. It’s clean and sanitary, ready to drink, cook with, or bathe in right at the very moment you need it. Plants get watered, pets get drinks, our children swim in pools. The only time we really give much thought to water is when our community is under a boil order, the water supply is decreased due to a severe drought, or we are in flood conditions that make our clean water unclean.
It’s really nice to live in a developed nation and be able to turn on a faucet, run water into a glass, and have a drink of water anytime I want.
But around the world, people in undeveloped or developing nations don’t have that luxury. Many people living in those places don’t have indoor plumbing. Which means no running water in the kitchen for a drink when they want or need it. No indoor toilet with water to carry waste away to a water treatment facility. No running water to wash their hands after … well, anything. These are people who are poor, so they don’t have the money to build wells, and all the water they need must be transported by hand from a water source to their homes. Often, the water source, whether it’s a river, pond, or lake, is miles from their home, so people have to walk to the water source, put water into a container, then carry water back home.
Can you imagine the necessity of making a four-day walk to another country just to get water for your family? I can’t. And it astounds me that in 2013, we have the technology to provide fresh, clean water to people all over the world, yet according to the UN:
Water scarcity already affects every continent. Around 1.2 billion people, or almost one-fifth of the world’s population, live in areas of physical scarcity, and 500 million people are approaching this situation. Another 1.6 billion people, or almost one quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortage (where countries lack the necessary infrastructure to take water from rivers and aquifers).
Water scarcity is among the main problems to be faced by many societies and the World in the XXIst century. Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, and, although there is no global water scarcity as such, an increasing number of regions are chronically short of water.
Water scarcity is both a natural and a human-made phenomenon. There is enough freshwater on the planet for six billion people but it is distributed unevenly and too much of it is wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed.
Lack of water contributes to gender inequality:
Fetching water is part of the gender inequality
- In rural Benin, girls ages 6-14 spend an average of one hour a day collecting water compared with 25 minutes for their brothers.
- In Malawi, there are large variations in the amount of time allocated for water collection based on seasonal factors, but women consistently spend four to five times longer than men on this task.
- In Tanzania, a survey found school attendance to be 12 per cent higher for girls in homes located 15 minutes or less from a water source than in homes one hour or more away. Attendance rates for boys appeared to be far less affected by distance from water sources.
- In 12% of households children carry the main responsibility for collecting water, with girls under 15 years of age being twice as likely to carry this responsibility as boys under the age of 15 years.
- Research in sub-Saharan Africa suggests that women and girls in low-income countries spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water—the equivalent of a year’s worth of labour by the entire Work force in France.
- In Africa, 90% of the work of gathering water and wood, for the household and for food preparation, is done by women. Providing access to clean water close to the home can dramatically reduce women’s workloads, and free up time for other economic activities. For their daughters, this time can be used to attend school.
Sanitation is one of the major challenges faced in overcoming gender inequalities
- Inadequate access to safe, hygienic and private sanitation facilities is a source of shame, physical discomfort and insecurity for millions of women across the world. Cultural norms frequently make it unacceptable for women to be seen defecating—forcing many women to leave home before dawn or after nightfall to maintain privacy.
- When women have to wait until dark to defecate and urinate in the open they tend to drink less during the day, resulting in all kinds of health problems such as urinary tract infections.
- One problem that has been observed is that the latrine designs, especially for primary and secondary schools, are mainly prepared by male masons. The tendency therefore has been to construct latrines which are not sensitive to the special needs of girls. This has resulted in girls staying away from schools when they are menstruating, even when their schools have latrines. In the case of small boys too, the urinals are often too high. Moreover, it is important that separate sanitary latrines are constructed for boys, in order to prevent boys from taking over the latrines that are meant for the girls.
Human Development Report 2006. Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2006.
Progress on sanitation and drinking water: 2010 update. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP), 2010.
Mainstreaming Gender in Water Management. Resource Guide. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Gender and Water Alliance (GWA), 2006.
And sexual violence:
When people, especially women and girls, have to use their time each day walking to a water source and transporting water home, this work allows them less time to spend on other things, like being in school and studying/learning, taking care of a garden or livestock, working at a job, or taking care of a family. All of these effects contribute to higher rates of poverty, all because people don’t have easy access to water.
It takes money – not much, but more than people in developing nations can afford – to build wells or water sanitation plants. And it doesn’t take much money to do these things. So if the lack of access to clean water in other places bothers you, why not contribute to a charity that funds projects to access water in these nations. Below, you’ll find a list of charities that help fund and build water projects:
Millions of people worldwide die each year from waterborne illness. In many third-world countries, women walk barefoot on harsh terrain for hours each day to collect water for their families. Contaminated, disease-ridden water, that will most likely lead to illness or death, is collected in gas cans weighing at least 40 pounds, which are then strapped to their backs as they bear the weight of the water back home. Because these women spend so much time collecting water for their families, they miss out on the opportunity to attend school or care for the young children in their families. The cycle of poverty continues.
Fortunately, there are many water charities who are working toward a goal of clean water for everyone on Earth by the year 2015. Most of the following organizations have already begun to make a huge impact on the women and children of rural villages in poor countries in Africa, Asia and South America. Several others are also working to improve water sources in the United States. These water charities raise money by collecting individual and group donations, most or all of which go toward helping those in need gain access to clean water.
Is there a water charity that we forgot to include? Email Selwa@filtersfast.com to let us know.
A Drop in the Bucket seeks out innovative technological solutions to water and sanitation problems. Started by a group of ordinary people in Los Angeles, this non-profit organization works to provide water wells and sanitation systems to schools in Africa. A Drop in the Bucket is a water charity that encourages people to get involved by making donations and by spreading awareness.
Agua Para La Vida is a small organization dedicated to providing clean water solutions to the people of rural Nicaragua. Their goals include: improved sanitation through the building of latrines by local families; health education through school programs, adult programs and personal house visits; watershed conservation through reforestation and a technical work-study school that provides training in all aspects of drinking water projects to Nicaraguan students. The local focus ensures long-lasting success. Donations are accepted online or by mail, and 100 percent goes toward helping a Nicaraguan family build a clean water system.
Blood: Water Mission was founded by the Grammy award-winning band, Jars of Clay. The water charity works to promote sustainable solutions to both the HIV/Aids crisis and the water crisis in Africa. Through community empowerment, Blood: Water Mission has succeeded in creating and maintaining several HIV/Aids clinics along with thousands of water projects, including drilled wells, rain catchments and Biosand filtration. Fundraising campaigns include walks for water and sacrificial commitments to drink only water for two weeks or forty days, donating the money that would normally be spent on other beverages to Blood: Water Mission’s efforts. The organization also advocates creating your own campaign to raise funds.
Blue Legacy‘s main initiative, “Expedition: Blue Planet” takes a team of film, photography and media experts on a journey across five continents to areas where threatened water sources are of particular concern: India’s Ganges River, the drought-stricken Palestinian West Bank, and the U.S. Mississippi and Anacosta Rivers. This team uses videos, blogs and photos to chronicle the water issues specific to each area in a larger effort to depict the interconnectivity of water issues on a global scale. Blue Legacy focuses on the impact of water on the lives of the people in each location, using media as an educational tool to build awareness by helping others experience this impact for themselves.
The Blue Planet Run Foundation funds water projects through a collaborative effort known as the Peer Water Exchange (PWX). This network partnership of donors, implementers and observers is an online community that includes 59 agencies and non-governmental organizations like WaterAid, Water for People and charity: water all working together to ensure the ongoing success of water projects in 22 countries. Projects are reviewed and monitored online by various members of the network on a continual basis. There are many ways for people to participate: make a donation online; start a fundraising event; shop at the e-store or dedicate your next athletic event to the safe water cause.
CannedWater4Kids supports clean water initiatives worldwide – including well digging projects, water filtration and clean water education – using clean water packaged in aluminum cans as its symbol and billboard for spreading awareness. All of the funds are raised through personal donations and sponsors. Anyone may donate online or by mail, or by drinking CannedWater4Kids glacial spring water, packaged in recyclable aluminum cans.
charity: water began with a birthday party. In September 2008, founder, Scott Harrison, asked his friends to give $20 for his 31st birthday, instead of gifts. 100% of the money raised went to the funding of six wells in Uganda. Since then, charity: water has grown into a large campaign to raise money for various water projects in Africa, India, Honduras and Haiti. Through a separate website, mycharity: water, the organization provides a way for people to create a page and ask their friends to contribute funds. Once projects are completed, participants can see proof of contributions through videos, photos and GPS coordinates on Google Maps accessible through the organization’s website. Patrons can also build awareness by purchasing products such as reusable water bottles, bracelets, t-shirts, and e-cards through the online store. 100% of all proceeds also go toward charity: water projects.
Clean Water for Haiti is a faith-based missions and humanitarian aid organization. Registered in Canada and the U.S., it is entirely volunteer-run, providing clean water to Haitian families through the production, transport and installation of Biosand filters in areas of need. Clean Water for Haiti hosts technician training classes several times a year for other organizations who would like to start their own Biosand filter projects. Anyone can help by making donations or by becoming a volunteer in Haiti, Canada or the U.S.
Clean Water Fund is based in Washington D.C. and serves in more than 20 states. Its mission is to create strong leadership to aid communities in campaigning for cleaner water and healthier environmental conditions. This non-profit organization takes a democratic approach to issues like clean water sources, global warming and the chemical contamination of our environment. Donations are accepted online or by mail and go toward research, education and action programs dedicated to providing clean water, improving public health nationwide, and protecting the ecosystem.
Generosity Water is a handful of people dedicated to the cause of funding clean water projects in parts of Africa, Asia and South America on a small-scale. Based in Los Angeles, this water charity partners with local organizations in these areas to build wells, funding each project with donations that can be obtained through fundraisers or made directly through the website. Once a well is built, Generosity Water distributes de-worming pills to beneficiaries in the community, allowing them a fresh, healthy start. Donors then receive a report documenting the success of the project through real-life stories and pictures.
Just a Drop is a UK-based, independent, non-campaigning, hands-on water charity committed to water projects in 29 different countries. Founded on the principle that just a little bit can make a huge difference, the organization receives support from travel and tourism companies, as well as other businesses, and provides an opportunity for both companies and individuals to make donations online through their Just Giving page. Supporters may also become a “friend” of Just a Drop and commit to regular monthly giving.
Lifewater International is a holistic, charitable Christian ministry that focuses not just on physical need – water – but also on the spiritual and emotional needs of poor people around the world. Like many other water charities, Lifewater helps communities in third-world countries gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene, along with the skills necessary to maintain these solutions through future generations. There are many ways to get involved by donating money, raising awareness, sponsoring a fundraiser, volunteering or simply committing to pray.
Living Water International is a faith-based non-profit organization whose mission is to demonstrate the love of God by providing both clean water and “the living water of Jesus” to the poor people of the world. Serving people of all faiths, Living Water takes a three-pronged approach, training, equipping and consulting with communities to meet their needs and foster long-term solutions. The organization hires local people and uses local equipment to create jobs and empower communities to help those around them also achieve sustainable results. The website offers several ways to get involved by volunteering locally or internationally, making donations, or spreading the word through the Living Water International Facebook cause.
Project Wet was founded in 1984 and now works in all 50 states and in over 50 countries to reach children, parents, educators and communities with water education. To do so, this nonprofit organization publishes water resource materials in several languages – including Hungarian and Kiswahili. Project Wet also achieves its mission through training workshops on various water topics and community water events. All resources focus on education that leads to meaningful local, sustainable action. In addition, they have partnered with organizations like USAID and UN Habitat in international projects centered on water, sanitation and hygiene education.
PumpAid was founded by three teachers living and working in Zimbabwe, who saw the need for clean water and sanitation as many of their friends became ill and died from unsafe drinking water. Working in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Liberia, with hopes of expanding out to other parts of Africa, the PumpAid team raises funds to build Elephant Pumps and Elephant Toilets, two innovative, simple but effective technologies that can be maintained by poor, rural communities without additional assistance. Building projects are funded through online donations and fundraisers, and all construction projects are performed by the members of each community, using local, easily obtainable materials. Singer, Corinne Bailey Rae, has been a Goodwill Ambassador for PumpAid since 2007.
The OK Clean Water Project began in 2003 when Sister Cathy Molloy in the Kumbo area of Cameroon, invited a group in Ottowa, Canada to respond to the water needs of 11 families in her village. The people in Ottowa raised $3,000 in response, and this Ottowa-Kumba partnership became The OK Clean Water Project. Today, these two groups work together to provide clean water to villages in Kumba and the nearby, outlying areas of Cameroon. Anyone can help by donating funds, becoming a volunteer or simply spreading the word through online social media.
The Run for Water is an annual fundraising event that takes place in Canada. All the money raised goes to Hope International Development Agency, an organization that funds clean water projects in poor regions of Africa, along with other charitable efforts. People may participate in the event directly by running or raising funds, or indirectly by making donations online.
The Ryan’s Well Foundation came about because of one six-year-old boy’s simple solution to the problem of the world water crisis. After hearing from his first grade teacher that people in different parts of the world were dying because of dirty water, Ryan did extra chores around his house and started speaking in public in efforts to raise money for a well in Uganda. The well was built by the time Ryan turned seven, and since then, his efforts have grown to create the Ryan’s Well Foundation, a Canadian-registered water charity, which has succeeded in creating over 500 sustainable safe water, sanitation and hygiene projects in 16 different countries. The foundation provides several ways for people of all ages to get involved by making donations, starting fundraisers, or becoming a Ryan’s Well Ambassador and using one’s individual talents to contribute to the cause.
The Waterkeeper Alliance is a network of sustainable organizations across the U.S. Each organization is the voice for its community, made up of people who defend their local watershed by tracking down polluters, speaking out in courtrooms, classrooms and town meetings for every person’s right to clean fishable, swimmable, drinkable water. The Alliance keeps local Waterkeepers connected and provides them with legal support and the educational resources they will need to defend their local waterways. The website provides an opportunity for anyone to get involved by making a donation or becoming a Waterkeeper. Visit the Save our Gulf website to make a donation toward the Alliance’s effort to save the Gulf Coast from the recent BP oil disaster.
The Water Life Foundation is a self-supported, non-profit water charity dedicated to the provision of clean water sources for disadvantaged peoples. Through cooperative community and commercial ventures and various partnerships, WaterLife has funded smaller scale projects in Cameroon, Haiti, Peru and the Dominican Republic, focusing on long-term sustainability through education, sanitation and the creation of clean, safe, affordable water sources.
The Water Project is a Christian, non-profit organization that raises funds to provide access to clean water in Kenya, Sudan, Sierra Leone, India and Zambia, through the building of wells, weirs and rain catchment systems. One-hundred percent of all donations as well as all profits from the online store go toward the building of these water projects. Donors can participate in one-time or monthly offerings or sponsor an entire well. The Water Project tracks every donation to a specific project, and once completed, donors can see the results online through stories, pictures and GPS coordinates.
Water 1st International helps fund sustainable water initiatives in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Honduras and India, supporting local partner organizations for projects that include hygiene promotion, water sanitation through the building of toilets, and the increased involvement of women to promote gender equality and the creation of a stronger community. Beneficiaries in Bangladesh and India pay for 40 to 100 percent of the capital costs of their projects through a loan program, which ensures the maintenance of efforts well beyond their starting point. Donations are received through the organization’s website. In addition, anyone may participate in fundraising efforts through the Water 1st Razoo page, by asking friends and family members to donate money.
WaterAid is an international, non-governmental organization that partners with local organizations in 26 countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific Region to implement safe water, sanitation and hygiene education in both urban and rural areas. Using simple, low-cost sustainable materials, WaterAid enables families and communities to maintain the systems themselves, ensuring long-term success. The organization’s international website allows access to several local websites, which provide opportunities for both adults and children around the world to learn more and to get involved in various fundraising campaigns.
WaterCan / EauVive is a Canadian water charity that funds projects to create sustainable clean water sources, sanitation and hygiene education practices in four East African countries – Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. This water charity forms partnerships with indigenous organizations and encourages the local participation of community members, equipping them with the knowledge and tools necessary to ensure long-term maintenance once projects are complete. There are multiple fundraising efforts through this organization, including a Walk for Water and several Canadian university chapters that work to promote this cause.
Water Charity is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the implementation of practical projects, small and large, short and long-term, to serve those in need of safe water, sanitation and health education. A recent Water Charity initiative, Appropriate Projects, is designed to do small-scale water projects all over the world for those who have immediate need. Each one is run by a Peace Corps volunteer, lasts a month, and costs no more than $500.
Water for Life is based at University of the Nations in Kona, Hawaii. The organization has been involved in short-term water projects in Kiribati, Indonesia and Brazil, and is currently implementing sustainable water initiatives in Kosovo and Rwanda. Beyond simply providing clean water to various parts of the world, Water for Life also seeks to educate and train communities to create and sustain their own local water resources. The University offers various training opportunities and seminars for those who would like to participate in the organization’s efforts. Donations are also accepted through the website.
Water for People currently works to develop long-lasting, innovative, safe water solutions in 11 countries around the world. Water for People’s most innovative solution runs through its partnership with PlayPumps International and the Case Foundation. This partnership provides for the distribution of PlayPump merry-go rounds to villages around the world. As children spin on the PlayPump, water is pumped from underground into a water tank with a tap from which clean water may be drawn. The organization offers people the opportunity to get involved by spreading the word through online media, shopping the online store, or by making donations.
Water Is Life has developed a drinking straw that filters disease-causing microorganisms and particles from water in a three-stage process. Each straw provides access to clean drinking water to one person for up to a year. This organization saves lives immediately by distributing the straws to villages in third-world countries. After distribution, Water Is Life continues to research and implement a long-term clean water solution in each village while providing hygiene and sanitation assistance to village clinics.
Waterlines is a publicly-funded, all-volunteer, non-profit organization based in New Mexico that has provided funding and expertise for small-scale water projects for over 200 communities in 12 countries. Projects are sponsored by churches and other organizations in the United States, and Waterlines works one-on-one with the individual communities to build a safe water supply system that is afterward continually monitored to ensure success. The communities receiving the aid commit their own labor to build and maintain the system. Project costs range from $1,000 to $25,000.
Water Missions International began as a response to the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in Honduras in 1998. George and Molly Greene, operators of an engineering company at the time, created a mini-water treatment system that uses both chemical disinfection and filtration to provide victims with clean, safe drinking water. After witnessing the success of the mission in Honduras, they sold their engineering company and founded Water Missions International. To date, the organization has provided assistance to communities in eight different countries. Each mission involves not only the spread of clean water treatment systems, but also the spread of the “living water” message of Christianity.
Water to Thrive is a faith-based non-profit organization founded by Triumphant Love Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas after a Bible study of only 40 people learned of the world water crisis and raised enough money to build 12 freshwater wells in Ethiopia. This water charity implements three types of water project solutions – hand-dug wells, spring protection, and bore holes – to people in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone. Churches, schools, clubs, organizations and individuals may get involved by making donations or by sponsoring an entire project.
Water.org was founded by Matt Damon and Gary White. Believing that the indigenous people within each community know best how to solve their own problems, water.org partners with other, local organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America before carrying out any water project. The partnership organizations are carefully screened and selected, and once approved, Water.org provides funding and assistance in the form of hygiene and sanitation education in addition to the building of safe community water wells and systems. Through the Water Credit Initiative, a small loan program, communities are able to partially fund their own project, thus claiming ownership and increasing the likelihood of long-term success. For water.org, “digging is the easy part.” What happens before and after the system is in place is most important.
Wine to Water was founded by Doc Henley, a North Carolina bartender and nightclub musician who wanted to find a creative way to provide clean water to those in need. Based on Jesus’ first miracle, this water charity uses money raised from wine-related events and tastings for water projects in Sudan, Uganda, India, Cambodia and Peru. Anyone may get involved by hosting a Wine to Water benefit or by making donations directly online or by mail.
Thirst Relief International is a public water charity working to provide access to safe water in seven countries in South America, Africa and India. The organization primarily uses household Biosand filtration, supplemented with shallow well digging and well hand pump repair to improve water quality. Individuals may donate online or by mail.
Let’s make a difference in the lives of people in other parts of the world. Clean water is a right, not a privilege. It is a necessity, not a luxury. If we really believe that God loves us all, then we need to act accordingly and share our resources with those who also need those resources.