Catalysts for Change: 5 Key Questions to Ask Clean Water Organizations
In recent months, there appears to have been an upsurge of interest by people concerning “clean water” projects around the world. I am definitely excited to hear that more people are intentionally combating this global issue. Consider the following stats:
- Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a preventable, water-related disease.
- Most of these children are younger than 5, and a majority of them—80 percent—are younger than 2.
- Contaminated water and poor sanitation are factors in 88 percent of all disease in the developing world—diarrhea alone kills 2.1 million children annually.
In light of this recent push towards clean water projects, I thought it would appropriate for this month’s Catalysts for Change Highlight (see description below about Catalysts for Change) to share with you the kinds of questions that all of us should ask before jumping on board with an organization. As with many other social issues, many organizations have great hearts, but don’t always have the knowledge or skills to develop sustainable projects. Clean water is no exception.
In hopes of refining our thinking on this issue, I asked a good friend of mine, Keith Kall, who currently works directly with clean water around the world as the Executive Director of National Foundation and Corporation Development for World Vision, to give us 5 key questions to ask clean water organizations before we begin partnership with them.
The following is a list of the 5 questions (along with reasons for the questions) that Keith provided:
- Does your organization test “water quality”?
- Reason: Clear water is not necessarily safe water. There are many naturally occurring contaminants (i.e. microorganisms, major ions, fluoride and trace elements) that can seriously harm an individual’s health and quality of life. Skeletal fluorosis, for example, is a serious health problem related to excessive accumulation of fluoride in the bones that causes serious deformities in the bone structure and making them extremely weak and brittle.
- How does your organization address the “sustainability” of the water wells?
- Reason: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the average life span of a water well in Africa is 4 years. Relatively few organizations build in sustainability measures in their water projects to ensure the long-term benefits and operation of water wells.
- How does your organization involve local communities in its water well projects?
- Reason: Community involvement is a critical component to well sustainability. If an organization puts a water-well into a village without community participation and contribution (financial or sweat-equity), then sustainability, the effectiveness and the benefit of that water well is highly questionable.
- Does your organization pair sanitation facilities (i.e., latrines) and hygiene education with the provision of clean water?
- Reason: 88% of diseases in the developing world are water-related. The majority of health benefits of clean water (i.e. reduction in diarrheal rates) are only realized with accompanied with good sanitation and hygiene education.
- Does your organization work with community leadership to form “water committees”?
- Reason: Water committees are vital to effective water projects and community development. These committees are formed to both manage water resources and promote hygiene within the community. Members are trained in business management, pump maintenance and repair, hygiene and sanitation, trachoma control and prevention, environmental and natural resource management. Further, women are represented equally on these committees, which begins to engender a more equitable position for women in their community.
For those serious about bringing sustainable relief to those experiencing this water crisis, please consider asking these questions to anyone you partner with.
For more information about clean water projects, please feel free to contact Keith Kall directly at: [email protected]. For those of you on facebook, you can find Keith’s profile by clicking here or visiting World Vision’s Clean Water cause page by clicking here.
In addition, please check out World Vision’s clean water page by clicking here.
Catalysts for Change: This group is dedicated to living as catalysts for cultural change as it relates to the injustices of the world. Each month, I will highlight a non-profit that is making a significant difference in the world to bring relief and development for people who experience injustice. My hope is that these highlights would bring awareness, create conversations, strengthen networks, and mobilize us into action. I invite you to add your comments about and experiences with the various organizations highlighted each month.