3.575 million people die every year as a direct result of diseases incurred from dirty and unsafe water, primarily diarrheal illnesses and diesease. Most of those who succumb to illnesses stemming from unsafe water are children under the age of five, translating to nearly 60 percent (2.2 million) of those who die. When calculated, that amounts to one child under the age of five dying every two minutes.
Dirty water and poor sanitation have ended more lives in the last century than any other cause. What can you do to help? In the content below, we discuss the fight against unclean water and address four ways we can help provide clean water to those in need worldwide.
The Fight Against Unclean Water
As reported by UNICEF, 663 million people are without access to safe, clean drinking water. This is a time of urgency to help relieve the weight of the problem.
Time is of the Essence
Did you know that the average distance that someone in a developing community walks to fetch water is 3.75 miles?
How long would it take for you to walk a mile? If well-paced, the average time to walk a one-mile distance is between 15-20 minutes. Imagine walking between 6-7 miles while carrying your family’s daily supply of water. Would you have time to work at another job or attend school?
As a result of the time needed to collect the day’s water, women usually don’t have enough time to work at a job to contribute to the family’s livelihood. Also just imagine when it is a child’s responsibility to collect the water, they are then unable to attend school and their education is impacted. The sacrifice of a job or education is at the cost of unclean water.
The Weight of the Problem
On average, a 5-gallon jug filled with water amounts to 44 pounds. How long could you carry one without straining your back or forming blisters on your soles? Over time, the excessive weight of the water containers carried over a long distance can create additional health issues for the individuals carrying it.
Imagine your eight-year-old son or daughter carrying a 44 pound jug of water for four miles. How exhausted would they feel after just a few minutes? Consider an expectant mother who may be the only one available to fetch the daily water. Would she have the endurance throughout the round trip?
If there was a way for clean water to be accessible within the local villages, the chore of collecting water would be much more manageable and less stressful.
4 Ways to Provide Clean Water to Millions Without
We cannot ignore the reality that nearly one million people, mostly comprised of small children, died from waterborne disease in the last year alone.
When trying to make an impact on a global issue such as the water shortage and inaccessibility to clean water, it may feel daunting to come up with a tangible and effective solution. However, together, we can work to reduce the global water shortage and provide accessible safe drinking water to those in need.
Below are four ways to provide clean and accessible water to millions without.
#1. Educating the Community in Health and Hygiene
For those who live in areas with unclean water, it is important to help educate them on the risks of using unsafe water sources. Health and hygiene education effectively teaches families and communities about the long-lasting effects of living healthy lives: drinking safe water, hand washing techniques, properly cleaning food, and the importance of nutrition.
Water shortage solutions work best when implemented in partnership with the local community. Invest in local leaders by training them on the operation and maintenance of their safe water system plus provide micro-business skills training. We also focus on training local volunteers to provide women and children with a health & hygiene educational program. When local communities invest their own time and sweat equity, you often see a greater success rate. Oftentimes, these leaders are best identified through the local church, creating an opportunity for the church to tangibly invest in their community.
#2. Implementing Water Purification Systems
Although some villages and countries have access to water, the water is often contaminated by disease-causing bacteria. As a result, this contributes to the global shortage of clean, drinkable water. We realize that there is no one-size-fit-all safe water shortage solution. Therefore, it is crucial to design and implement purification systems to fit the specific local context and need.
Three Objectives to Provide Clean Water Through Purification Systems
Our engineering teams at Healing Waters International design and implement water purification systems uniquely created for each community. We leverage simple, reliable, and powerful tools to provide a lasting supply of safe water and train the site partner in systems operation and maintenance.
We utilize water treatment technology that follows our three core objectives:
- Create a Safe Water Environment: We remove bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites, particulates, and other harmful substances using separation membrane technology. This removes any risk of operator error.
- Clean Bottles: We utilize an integrated bottle sanitizing station to ensure that safe water is not contaminated by pouring it into dirty bottles.
- Ensure Sustainability: Our teams work hard to create water purification systems and components that can be affordably supplied to the community. Often acquired locally, these components can be easily changed to ensure sustainable operations.
Our systems are designed to primarily purify existing water sources. This approach conserves water – which is crucial as water scarcity rises – and ensures constant safe water.
The site partner owns and operates the purification and distribution system to make the whole program economically viable and sustainable. The water is sold at a cost that makes it accessible to all in the community.
#3. Water-Business Operations
Providing access to safe water alone will not create lasting impact unless there is a sustainable model for operations, maintenance, and funding also in place. Healing Waters’ staff will train a local site partner in equipment maintenance, water purification operations, and administration, so that they can run their own small water business that can sell water at an affordable price. The revenue from the water sales allows the project to cover maintenance costs and to supply water for the entire community.
Additionally, Healing Waters continues to support local leadership through in-person visits and quarterly monitoring to track key performance indicators and help troubleshoot any advanced technical issues that arise. This monitoring goes beyond waterpoint functionality to assess preventative maintenance and administrative activities that ensure the water site can reach the people and the impact it was designed for.
#4. Empowering Through The Her Initiative
The Her Initiative was founded in 2002 after our passion to empower women through clean water. Since then, Healing Waters International has been providing safe water to communities in need around the world by developing low-cost, high-impact water purification systems that can go anywhere – totaling over 415 water projects in 16 countries!
Instilling Hope with Healing Waters International
Hope leads to thriving. We believe people thrive when their physical and spiritual needs are met. Instilling hope in others helps change people spiritually, emotionally, and physically. When people have hope, they positively change down to the cellular level, leading to improved health. Hope-filled, healthy people who do not have to worry about where their clean water will come from.
At Healing Waters International, our model is incomplete without this key element. Freed from the burden of unsafe water, our prayer and vision is that people don’t just survive, they thrive: full of hope and the freedom to learn, love, work and pursue their dreams.
Engage in Long-Term Success
We work with the local community to produce a long-term monitoring and evaluation plan. Reporting water program outputs and impact not only ensures accountability but enables us to learn how to keep doing things better. It also allows the local leaders to adjust and make improvements in hardware and practices that keep safe water flowing for generations to come.
Our experience over the last 15 years has taught us the value of strategic partnerships. We partner with other like-minded organizations whose mission, vision, and approach to poverty alleviation aligns with our own, and who have identified safe water as an essential component of their work.
This includes local churches within the communities, church leaders at the national level, as well as international non-profits including Compassion International and many others.
We all need the chance to pursue a quality of life that begins with the necessity of accessible, safe water. And we can all do something to help! We invite you to join us at Healing Waters International.
Contact us today for more information about ways to partner with us. Together, we can end the global water crisis!
We’re on a mission to end the global water crisis. We build holistic clean water solutions and spread God’s love in at-risk communities around the world, empowering people not just to survive, but to thrive – physically, socially and spiritually.