Guest Author - Tricia Krietzberg
I take water for granted, and I bet you do too. I simply expect to have water to drink, to bathe with, and to cook with. I even have a pool in my backyard filled with 30,000 gallons of the stuff. But when I recently heard that nearly 3.6 million people die every year from water-related diseases, it really made me think about water as a luxury. There’s just something so wrong about that. Thankfully, there are folks who are trying to make a dent in those statistics, including a non-profit organization called Water Partners International.
Water Partners International was founded in 1990 by Gary White. White, a water process engineer, quit his job to create the organization that would, over time, bring safe drinking water and sanitation systems to 200 communities across the globe. But he didn’t do it by raising money and giving it away. If people in need wait for grant money, they end up waiting forever. Instead, Water Partners International partners directly with the members of each community it serves by offering grants, loans, or a combination of grants and loans to help build the water systems.
WaterCredit is the loan program, and, according to the organization’s website, it is the first of its kind. Working in partnership with community organizations across the globe, Water Partners International provides loans to those communities who are more than happy to help pay for clean water. Once those loans are repaid, the money goes back into a revolving account that will then be used to help build water systems for other communities.
“Many people in the developing world are willing and able to pay the full or partial cost of their own water systems and sanitation facilities, if only they could finance the expenditure,” the organization says on its website. “We know, for example, that many residents in urban areas spend 25 percent or more of their income on water that is often contaminated. Further, even slum dwellers have demonstrated their ability to pay for water, as they spend about 5-10 times more for water from private vendors than middle-class residents who have access to municipal water supply systems.”
Another interesting fact is that WaterPartners doesn’t build water systems for people, but rather helps the people build it themselves. As soon as a community is selected, it elects members to sit on a water committee. In addition to being involved in the planning of the water system, this committee develops the construction schedule and, with training provided by WaterPartners, will educate community members on proper hygiene.
So how can we help WaterPartners International reach out to even more people in need of safe drinking water? When you hear how easy it is, I think you’ll jump at the chance to help. It only takes $25 to provide safe drinking water for one person’s entire life! For $150, you can provide a life-time supply of safe drinking water for an entire family. Have a bit more in your charity budget? For a mere $200, you will provide a household water tap and a toilet to a Honduran family. And, a generous donation of $1,000 will provide public water and sanitation services to a Bangladesh village of 400 people.
I’m convinced. It’s just insane that the $150 I spent at the grocery store the other day can provide safe drinking water for an entire family forever. I won’t take water for granted anymore, and I hope you won’t either. The 3.6 million people who will die this year alone from water-related diseases are just waiting for us to help.
Water Partners Iternational
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