A number of technologies have already begun to transform people’s lives by making clean, safe water reliably accessible. Here are some of them.
Changing Tide: There are hundreds of millions across the world without access to adequate water. As a result, women and children take on the exhausting task of water — but this is changing. / Photo: Charity: Water
Today, 663 million people around the world don’t have access to clean water. That’s more than twice the United States population. The water these families use comes from unsanitary sources, such as ponds and rivers that are also used by animals. To make matters worse, women and girls frequently bear the burden of walking miles with 40-lb. containers to collect dirty water.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Success via access
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, because the communities in need of, and receiving support, have very different geologies, cultures and economies. Some live in arid climates, and clean water is located deep beneath the ground. Other communities have abundant surface water, but it needs filtration before it can be consumed safely. Still other communities’ closest water is high above them in rugged mountains.
In places like Mozambique, deep wells are drilled to unlock clean water that has been literally beneath a village for millennia. In that country, the arrival of a clean water point was life-changing for 15-year-old Natalia, who used to spend more time collecting water for her family than attending school. Now, not only is she one of the top students, but she’s been elected as president of her village’s water committee. This experience has sparked Natalia’s dream to one day become a school headmaster.
The Right Filter: Despite limited access to clean water, many countries in need are engineering water systems that provide safe drinking water for families without burdening children. / Photos: charity: water
In places like Cambodia, where surface water is abundant but dirty, durable bio-sand filters have been equally transformative. Dirty water goes in the top of the filter and safe drinking water comes out the bottom. After a filter was installed in 34-year-old Theng’s home in Cambodia, the amount of money he spent on health care for his family dramatically decreased, since they were no longer getting sick from the water they drank.
In Nepal, one can see the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas, but there is no clean water in the villages. A push to harness natural springs and pipe water down into communities changed that reality. And, at Balkumari Primary School in central Nepal, students can now play with their classmates at recess instead of hiking the steep, hilly terrain to collect water, thanks to a gravity-fed pipe system, which brings the mountain stream water directly to their school.
We do not build water systems ourselves, but instead seek out experienced local partners who are experts in regional solutions. In this way, every water project is tailored to its context and creates jobs in local economies.
The results are dramatic. Children don’t die from dirty water. People are clean and feel beautiful. Women are able to start businesses. And girls get to stay in school.
Water is the first step on the ladder to prosperity. In the last 10 years, 6.4 million people across 24 countries have received a new lease on life as a result of access to water. We look forward to the day when every human will have access to clean, safe drinking water.
Text by Christoph Gorder, President, Chief Global Water Officer, Charity: Water
This story originally appeared on Mediaplanet USA as part of its Water & Sustainability campaign and was republished with permission.
Mediaplanet’s Water & Sustainability campaign unites like-minded industry leaders to educate and raise awareness on major global and domestic water and energy issues. The campaign was distributed through USA TODAY on November 30th 2016 and is digitally available. For the full campaign, please visit impactingourfuture.com.