Montreal, CANADA — charity: water is an organization that aims to end the global water crisis. Scott Harrison founded the organization in 2006 after he “spent two years on a hospital ship off the coast of Liberia.” He was inspired after seeing the effects of dirty water firsthand. The organization has funded 111,796 projects and served more than 15 million people in 29 countries as of December 2022. Its efforts stem from building projects in partnership with locally owned organizations.
How the Water Crisis Affects Communities
The water crisis is a life-threatening problem that affects many developing countries. Lack of access to clean water affects not only nutrition but also safe hygiene practices. It also allows diseases such as cholera to spread. According to UNICEF, water scarcity disproportionally affects women and children who are the ones usually responsible for collection. This can take children, especially girls away from school and impacts educational attainment.
The United Nations reports that “2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services” and that “297,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases due to poor sanitation, poor hygiene or unsafe drinking water.” For this reason, charity: water’s work is key for improving the health of communities and lifting them out of poverty, primarily as they work in remote areas that are difficult to reach from cities, etc.
Extreme Weather Patterns and Water Scarcity
Extreme weather patterns are threatening the availability of water worldwide, mostly affecting developing regions. Each 1-degree Celsius increase in temperature could decrease water resources by 20%. Areas with subtropical climates such as Australia and North African countries are likely to experience more droughts and unpredictability in rainfall.
Not only does this create stress in terms of the immediate need for water but it also makes agriculture much more unreliable. This can have extremely negative knock-on impacts for entire communities as access to food and economic stability dwindles thus making aid more and more important. Increased frustration in water accessibility can also lead to transboundary water disputes also known as “localized water violence” which has been reported to have increased in recent years.
How charity: water Operates
Andi Riggs, a representative for charity: water spoke with The Borgen Project about its message, informing that “the one thing that the organization commits to is about hope and inspiration rather than guilt.” The charity: water website says that “every £1 ($1) invested in joint water supply and sanitation provides a £3.53 ($4.30) economic return.” Elaborating on this, Riggs explains that women and girls are usually prevented from working or attending school as they must trek long distances to fetch water, “when communities are able to get clean water, women are able to work and go to school [and]more people are able to work as they are not sick anymore.” Thus, the productive capacity of these communities is expanded as people don’t waste time and energy on water inefficiency.
Notably, according to Riggs, the organization engages in ongoing monitoring with “a remote water sensor that attaches to the water project and remotely transmits data about the health of the water project” so that if anything breaks down, they can dispatch a local mechanic.
A Positive Future
charity: water’s activities are progressive and extremely successful in making a change in an area that is critical. Access to water is a fundamental human right that forms the base of most operations that create healthy, thriving communities.
Water scarcity could inevitably become a more pressing issue in an environment that is becoming increasingly more vulnerable to extreme weather patterns and disproportionately affect developing regions. This could have detrimental effects on communities ranging from increased incidence of disease to economic decline and even political disputes. As such, it is important to support efforts that focus on clean water access, especially in the most remote areas in order to save lives and improve livelihoods.
– Priya Maiti
Photo: Wikimedia Commons