SEATTLE, Washington — Matt Damon founded Water.org with Gary White in 2009 to help end the global water crisis. Now, amid the unprecedented pandemic, people receiving support from Water.org’s efforts are more resilient than those not equipped with clean water systems and microloans. The nonprofit organization has helped millions of people access safe and clean water, keeping them healthy during this outbreak. As a response to COVID-19, world leaders from the heads of state to United Nations agencies have called for a united front to global water, sanitation and hygiene access. Water.org continues its multi-layered efforts to support and aid those living in poverty have access to safe water, ensuring vulnerable communities remain resilient amid the pandemic.
Who is Water.org
Actor Matt Damon founded Water.org with Gary White. It works to help vulnerable communities install water sanitation and hygiene systems at home, among other water access efforts. Today, 785 million people worldwide, meaning one in nine people lack access to safe water at home. Additionally, two billion people worldwide lack access to proper sanitation. Not only is this a challenge for people living far from boreholes or other community-sharing water wells, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this lack of access places people’s health at risk.
Water.org works to alleviate these challenges by making water safe, accessible and affordable for impoverished people. Since starting in 2009, Water.org’s efforts have empowered more than 30 million people in 13 countries with access to safe water and sanitation at home. By being able to turn on the tap and install a toilet, the nonprofit changed millions of lives, bringing them hope, security and opportunity for growth.
Water.org Continues its Work Amid COVID-19
From the approximate 785 million people lacking access to safe or clean water worldwide, nearly one million people die from preventable water-related diseases each year. The pandemic makes it clear that now, more than ever, safe water and access to sanitation are crucial to ensuring global health.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, world leaders have recognized the need for safe water and sanitation to be readily available to all, especially impoverished communities. Leaders from international financial institutions, United Nations agencies and governments, among others, have called for “the prioritization of water, sanitation and hygiene in response to COVID-19.”
As such, mobilization of finances to support countries lacking safe water and sanitation resources is crucial to curb the spread of COVID-19. The leaders’ joint statement affirms that funding directed to support emergency intervention needs will have long-term solutions in mind. “Access to water, sanitation and hygiene must be affordable to all, and this may require additional funding to support service providers and help those who cannot afford it,” states the leaders’ joint message.
Moreover, the leaders’ focus on allowing funding “to be maintained with no diversion away from the commitments and priorities set for the water, sanitation and hygiene sector,” demonstrates the commitment and importance of making safe water and sanitation a priority. Additionally, the focus on finances, efforts and intention contributes to Water.org’s effort to ensure that those living in poverty stay safe amid the crisis.
Keeping Vulnerable Communities Resilient
Until a COVID-19 vaccine is created, the best means to prevent the virus from spreading is to follow prevention guidelines. The best COVID-19 prevention measures include handwashing with sanitized water and practicing social distancing, meaning staying away from crowds and staying at home whenever possible. However, handwashing with soap and water requires access to running, safe water. Additionally, to comply with social distancing guidelines, people staying at home need to have access to safe water and sanitation. In many areas around the world, these prevention measures are enormously challenging for impoverished people lacking both access to secure water resources and the means to have a water and sanitation system installed at home.
Water.org continues to ensure everyone has access to water, eliminating socio-economical inequalities and making vulnerable communities resilient. The leaders’ joint message calls for a global effort to guarantee “water and sanitation systems are resilient and sustainable in order to protect people’s health and support national health systems.” Water.org will continue with its plan to provide water and financial support to those without access to clean water and does not plan to stop even amid the pandemic.