As I began writing this post, it felt hard to switch from the crisis in Ukraine to focusing on clean water charities for our March Cause of the Month. At least, that’s what I thought when I started. But I was quickly reminded how global problems and, more importantly, global solutions are interconnected. Championing one cause almost always adds to progress in other cause areas.
The Ukrainian refugee crisis is also a reminder of how meeting the most basic needs like shelter and safety – many of which we take for granted – can make a huge difference for those in need. So, with that hopeful outlook, I dove into the pool (pun intended) of successful work that our Charity Alliance partners do to ensure communities around the world have access to sanitized water.
According to the latest data, about 25% of the world population lacks safe drinking water, 33% lacks basic handwashing facilities and nearly 50% lacks safe sanitation. Clean water access through charitable giving goes to refugees in crisis and in other emergency circumstances. It reduces hunger by improving agriculture, protects health by decreasing disease spread, and helps women and girls achieve their full potential by saving long trips to far away water sources (time that can then be spent on education or running a small business).
This month, we are exploring the positive effects that stem from access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), including the ripple effects like increasing economic development and reducing child mortality. Global Impact’s charity partners know the importance of clean water and are working hard to make sure it is available to all, including the billions of people who currently lack access.
Tostan Inc. works with partner communities in Africa to create clean environments through sanitation. Lack of sanitation often leads to waterborne illness, which is one of the leading causes of child mortality. The charity’s Community Empowerment Program helps community members take an active role by holding weekly clean-ups, removing standing water, building latrines and building water well covers. Thanks to the program and supporters of Tostan, thousands of communities have healthier circumstances to thrive in.
WaterAid’s video, The Water Effect: What We Do illustrates perfectly how clean water access leads to so many people being able to live a better, fuller, healthier life.
Water For People
For so many people, having safe water is a dream come true. One example is Lilian’s story, which tells how Water For People changed her life:
Lilian’s community never thought they would have safe water. “We used to wake up very early in the morning to go fetch water,” she says. They would lose hours each day retrieving water. “The water was from swamps and there were a lot of diseases caused by using this dirty water” Lilian says. Sometimes she would walk beyond the swamp to a neighboring community, but it was far, the line was long and the price to fill up was very expensive.
Then, a tap stand was installed right in the middle of the community. “Now we have water a few meters from our houses!” Lilian says. Not only is the water closer, but it’s more affordable for her family. Community members aren’t suffering from typhoid and diarrhea, and children are able to spend more time concentrating on their studies instead of fetching water. The water system has also given Lilian a new job as the water seller at the tap stand, giving her a new source of income. With her profits from selling water, she has bought livestock to raise.
Whenever a community receives access to water, everything changes. Like in Lilian’s village, health improves, time is saved, and jobs are created.
World Vision has worked in WASH for over 30 years. Chris Huber shared four ways the charity’s water work makes a splash:
- Running water with gravity-fed water pipelines
In Kenya, clean water rushes from a gravity-fed water pipeline system to homes and the three primary schools. Students can attend class because they spend less time gathering water and because the schools are outfitted with large water tanks, spigots, latrines and handwashing stations. This system is community owned and maintained to ensure water is flowing for years to come.
- Teaching good hygiene with WASH UP!
World Vision’s WASH UP! program trains educators and community leaders to use play-based learning materials to teach children about good hygiene practices. It helps children identify healthy hygiene habits which goes a long way to reduce diseases. In 2020, at least 49,000 child participants learned proper sanitation and hygiene practices through the program.
- Rehabilitating community water systems for Syrian refugees
The war in Syria has displaced millions of people — half of them children. Damaged or destroyed water pipelines and sanitation systems have left families vulnerable to sickness and disease. World Vision rehabilitates critical water infrastructure in hard-hit areas. The goal is to reach 6 million people affected by the crisis with clean water and provide 200,000 people with functioning sanitation and handwashing facilities.
- Providing water for cleaner medical clinics
In Mali, 1 in 29 women have a chance of dying during childbirth. Facilities in rural, developing areas often lack the necessities like running water, functioning toilets, and handwashing stations. That’s why World Vision prioritizes efforts to develop water systems, provide necessities, and train health workers. Even the smallest of improvements lead to cleaner facilities and better outcomes for mothers and newborns.
Clean water can make the ultimate difference for a mother and infant trying to survive, children attending school, and business owners making a living. When a community has safe, reliable drinking and cleaning water – opportunity flows!
If staying up to date on the news and doomscrolling for the past two years has left you feeling helpless, you can turn to Global Impact clean water charities for hope and opportunities to help.
Here are some ways you can support more progress like the work mentioned above: