Many of us have no idea what it's like to be thirsty. We have plenty of water to drink. But many people around the world don’t have that luxury. Every day, about 1,400 children die from diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple solutions like drilled wells, spring protections and BioSand filters that help provide clean water to communities around the world. Organizations like charity: water work tirelessly to help those in need:
On Thursday, July 12, a team of 150 PRA cyclists from 18 countries will fly to Porto in Portugal to take part in a three-day bike ride from Porto to Lisbon in support of charity: water. Please donate to this important campaign here.
Tell us about charity: water. How did you get started and what is the organization’s mission?
charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. It all started with our founder, Scott Harrison, a former nightclub promoter who left the NYC lifestyle to pursue a passion for helping those in need. Scott had a vision for this organization - he wanted to reinvent charity. So, in an effort to restore people’s trust in charities, Scott guaranteed that 100% of all public donations would go directly to fund water projects. From day one, we’ve proven every project, sending photos and GPS coordinates of the communities served.
Tell us about some of the projects you’ve worked on around the world.
We’re passionate about solving the water crisis in our lifetime. Since 2006, we’ve funded 28,389 water projects with the help of 29 local partners. Our time in the field gives us a personal view on what it’s like to get clean water for the first time. The mothers, children, and communities that we’ve met inspire our ideas and, often times, solutions. Every one of them has a story worth sharing.
We know that our work is more than just digging wells or installing BioSand filters. It’s girls like Natalia, the 15-year-old President of Mozambique’s water committee, that empower us to initiate change. Natalia’s story is one of the thousands of projects we’ve worked on around the world. You can read even more stories here.
How do you decide where to do your work?
Water scarcity, poverty, political stability and strong partner organizations all play a part in where we choose to work. We focus on providing rural communities with their first access to clean water. But we’re not just about funding new wells, we’re also taking care of the ones we’ve already built. We care about sustainability, and making sure that our projects continue to provide clean water to communities long after they are installed.
What are some of the challenges you face in doing what you do?
Bringing clean water to people looks different in each country. Water sources, terrain, and population all play a part in determining what technology is required to serve people well, and sometimes that can create challenges for our local partners on the ground. But, we believe there’s a solution to everything. We invest the money we raise into organizations with years of experience to build sustainable, community-owned water projects around the world. Our team works closely to ensure that every dollar is accounted for and then provides reports back to our donors, even in the face of challenges.
Most of us take clean water for granted. How severe is the water crisis globally?
You’re right, most of us have no idea of what it’s like to be thirsty. Yet there are 663 million people in the world living without clean water. That’s nearly 1 in 10 people worldwide. Or, twice the population of the United States. The majority live in isolated rural areas and spend hours every day walking to collect water for their family. Not only does walking for water keep children out of school or take up time that parents could be using to earn money, but the water often carries diseases that can make everyone sick. Access to clean water means education, income and health – especially for women and kids.
What impact does your work have?
One of our favorite things to say is “water changes everything.” Access to clean water and basic sanitation can save around 16,000 lives every week. It also gives communities more time to grow food, earn an income, and go to school — all of which fight poverty. Less time collecting water means more time in class. Plus, clean water and proper toilets at school mean teenage girls don’t have to stay home for a week out of every month. When a community gets clean water, women and girls get their lives back. They start businesses, improve their homes, and take charge of their own futures. Our work helps make all of these things possible for communities around the world.
What are you most proud of as an organization?
From the start, transparency has been one of the most important pillars of charity: water. We pride ourselves on being an open book with proof of every project, accountability for all financials, and an honest relationship with our donors. Transparency is at the core of all things charity: water – even Scott’s office has glass doors!
How can others get involved in your efforts?
There are lots of ways to get involved with helping us end the water crisis! Here are three of our favorites:
- Donate! $30 will give one person clean water for life.
- Pledge your birthday! Click here to get started, customize your own URL, and spread the word to ask for donations instead of gifts. Your birthday will change lives!
- Do something crazy! Start your own campaign to raise money for clean water. Our campaigners have done some pretty amazing things, like hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro and swimming from Alcatraz to San Francisco, wearing nothing but a birthday suit!