Charity: Water’s Solution to Limited Access to Clean Water
Although clean water was recognized as a human right by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010, there are 2.1 billion people who still lack access to safely managed drinking water services. This is something many of us take for granted. Why should 2.1 billion be denied this human right?
The nonprofit organization, charity: water, makes it their mission to alleviate this injustice by bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. charity: water believes that “when a community gets access to clean water, it can change just about everything.” Beyond simply providing safe water for hydration, the organization strives to bring clean water to nations to “improve health, increase access to food, grow local economies, and help kids spend more time in school.” Their succinct goals allow them to remain focused on a future where all people can have access to clean water.
Despite the large magnitude of this problem, charity: water believes in their ability to solve this issue by holding both environmental and economic sustainability at the forefront of their projects. The nonprofit works specifically with local experts and community members to establish the best “sustainable solutions” in each community, whether it be a piped system, a well, a BioSand Filter, or even a rainwater harvesting system. In addition to the personalization of the solution, with every project, charity: water’s partners coordinate sanitation and hygiene training and establish a local Water Committee to maintain clean water access for years moving forward.
Charity: water immediately struck me as a remarkable organization that addresses the urgent need for equitable access to safe water, in relationship to the social injustices that are embedded in this problem. Something that also stood out to me was how conscious they were of the way they go about addressing the problem and interacting with many different communities and cultures. For these reasons, charity: water most definitely aligns with our class’s definition of “sustainability”. Their “actions or impacts serve to meet the social and economic needs of the present and future without exceeding planetary boundaries”, through their careful consideration of finding the right solution for a particular community. Physical factors (such as terrain) and cultural factors (like a community’s comfort level with the technology design) are strongly considered in the beginning of any project. They also receive support and financial assistance from partners, which indicates their solid base for a successful business. In addition, “resource use that maximizes renewal…while protecting and restoring the health of natural systems…and mitigating global climate change…,” is addressed through their commitment to ensuring that “water flows long after installation” and that the current environment or culture isn’t adversely impacted by their project.
Another wat charity: water contributes to sustainability objectives is through their approach to “economic development that promotes equitable opportunity,” as stated in our class definition. They have a strong commitment to local partners because of their rich knowledge of the place, people, and environment. By partnering, they veer away from the “white savior” complex by not actually claiming to “know everything.” They give others opportunities within their organization such as picking community members to be on the board for the local water project. In addition, their primary goal is to implement water projects for the purpose of improving lives. They will save millions of women from spending hours searching for water. Additionally, charity: water’s projects will in turn save thousands of children from severe diarrheal diseases and put them back in the classroom so they can learn and achieve their future goals without being worried about their water’s integrity.
While charity: water is clearly working on life changing projects in communities in need, there are still improvements that can be made in order to improve their efforts towards sustainability. For example, they do not directly mitigate the issue of using water sources for all needs including bathing, defecation, and hydration. Although charity: water constructs latrines in certain communities, this is mostly geared towards the purpose of privacy. Perhaps they could implement some cost effective innovations such as the “Peepoo” and “Lifestraw” to prevent contaminated water from impacting community health. that would nearly eliminate the chance for human waste contamination and replace more adaptive measures that do not thoroughly solve the underlying causes to the problem. However, this also presents itself as a barrier due to the fact that not all cultures want to or can afford to install plumbing, or other methods commonly used in the United States and other “developed” countries.
Charity: water relies on private and public donations and committed partners to fund all of their projects. They made a promise from their inception that “100% of public donations would go directly to fund clean water projects. Not only does this mean that they need donations, but they also have to outsource for money in order to pay employees and contractors and pay operating expenses, since these do not come out of donations.
Charity: water’s model is compelling since it prides itself on community, commitment, and consistency. Catering solutions to the individual community in order to empower people and improve their quality of life are main focuses that truly make their work notable. With clear goals and the tools to achieve, charity: water will continue to bring clean water to people all over the globe- clean water that will last generations to come. Explore this revolutionary organization by visiting: https://www.charitywater.org/about