IRVING, Texas — As one of life’s important necessities, water is pivotal in determining poverty status. Access to clean water, for instance, can increase food security and the probability of gaining employment. Unfortunately, more than 2 billion people lack access to clean water, leading to more than 3 million cases of cholera and several millions of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Moreover, more than 50% of patients occupying hospital beds in the developing world are sick from waterborne illnesses. On top of diseases, the lack of clean water has led to a lack of proper access to sanitation for 3.6 billion people. It is imperative to prioritize the importance of clean water to prevent these trends from continuing.
One organization, Pure Water For The World (PWW), strives to do just that. PWW’s work focuses on improving the lives of people in poverty by granting them access to clean water and proper sanitation.
PWW was conceived in 1994 by five passionate rotary club members from Brattleboro, Vermont, after one member, an orthodontist, visited a village in El Salvador. After witnessing the poor conditions and lack of clean water, the group aimed to deliver potable water solutions to members of impoverished communities. According to PWW, the organization targets water as a priority. It believes “Safe water is medicine.”In this way, PWW identifies access to clean water as a means to lift people out of poverty. Eventually, the rotary’s movement expanded, and they established Pure Water For The World in 1999.
PWW achieves its mission by primarily focusing on community empowerment, educational programs, and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) training programs centered around safe water and sanitation tools. Although PWW mainly operates in Haiti and Honduras, it implements many comprehensive WASH training programs throughout Latin America.
One of the reasons for PWW’s prominent success has been its community-specific approach. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Office and Donation Relations Manager Tracy Adams states, “There is not one best way” when it comes to addressing sanitation and access to water. Instead, each community needs to be evaluated individually based on several WASH factors, including community size and available water infrastructure. This community-centric approach has led to Pure Water For The World spearheading several successful initiatives.
The most successful PWW program in Haiti is the Community Education Program (CEP), a program dedicated to training volunteers in communities to provide WASH guidance. These volunteers, known as Lead Community Agents (LCAs), ensure safe water and sanitation training continues after PWW finishes the community’s projects. In 2022, PWW’s CEP in Haiti reached 177 individuals in Pistere, 196 in Dereal and Campeche and in Limonade, Haiti. With the help of these newly trained LCAs, PWW’s deworming campaign reached 1,200 residents in Pistere.
In 2023, PWW’s programs impacted 1,111 homes, held 61 WASH workshops, trained 34 new community agents, added 225 in-home water filters, implemented 14 rainwater harvesting systems, supervised 158 homes, and trained 1,727 people in WASH training. Pure Water For The World influenced many organizations across Honduras and Haiti. For example, representatives from other organizations, such as World Vision, ADRA International, Save The Children and GOAL, cosponsored one climate-resilient WASH workshop for menstrual hygiene.
PWW’s Effects on Poverty
PWW significantly impacts poverty in the communities in which the organization operates. The quintessential example involves the La Candelaria Neighborhood in Maraita, Honduras. Partnered with CEPUDO (another nonprofit organization) and the Mayor of Maraita, PWW assisted in erecting 14 homes in 2023 to provide a supporting environment and ease the struggles of mothers and caregivers. Pure Water For The World provided each family moving into the neighborhood with proper WASH educational training and support.
This program drastically affects poverty rates, providing families with necessary stability and essential services. Lorena Figueroa, a single mom who resides in La Candelaria, appreciates the facilities of sanitation and clean water and states how she “now [has]the opportunity to find a job.” With the much-needed stability, residents in La Candelaria can earn jobs, an integral piece to escaping poverty. La Candelaria illustrates that PWW’s efforts give people the tools to combat poverty.
The Future of PWW
Compared to other organizations centered around water and sanitation, PWW differs in three major ways: certified WASH training programs, in-country-based staff and community consent. These differences are what permit PWW to complete their work effectively. With more projects on the horizon, PWW strives to promote sanitation and access to clean water. These efforts allow PWW to continue impacting poverty rates in communities throughout Latin America.
– Amanav Yarlagadda