Though it’s scary to think about issues with our drinking water here in the United States, other countries have far bigger problems when it comes to accessing clean water for bathing, drinking and cooking.
In many regions, people must walk for miles to find water, then scoop it into heavy containers and walk back to their homes. Often, women and girls are responsible for this work, spending hours each day in their quest for water.
Even then, the water they consume is often contaminated. According to the World Health Organization, contaminated drinking water is responsible for 502,000 deaths each year.
Many communities also lack adequate sanitation facilities, which sometimes leads young girls to drop out of school and furthers the spread of deadly diseases.
Luckily, there are groups focused on bringing reliable water and sanitation systems to the countries that need it most. Here are five nonprofits doing good in the world of water.
1. charity: water
New York-based charity: water raises money and invests it in organizations around the world. So far, they’ve funded water programs in 24 countries in Africa, Asia, Central America and South America. The group works with local experts and residents to find the best solution to the water crisis in each community. Their local partners also coordinate training around sanitation and hygiene and establish a local water committee to look to the future.
2. Thirst Project
Based in Los Angeles, Thirst Project aims to build a generation of young people who care about ending the water crisis. The group educates students and encourages them to build water projects around the world. Since 2008, the Thirst Project has worked with more than 300,000 students, raised $8 million and provided clean water to over 280,000 people in 13 different countries.
Founded in 1990 by Matt Damon and Gary White, Water.org looks for practical economic solutions to the water crisis beyond charity. This group works alongside organizations in communities in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. All of their water projects are self-sustaining so that communities can independently operate and maintain them.
4. The Water Project
Through community engagement and education, the Water Project builds water wells, dams and spring protections in Kenya, Uganda and Sierra Leone. The group recruits, trains, equips and works with local, in-country partners to develop clean water projects. Working with their local partners, the Water Project establishes defined goals for each project to ensure they’re sustainable.
The team behind WATERisLIFE developed a high-tech straw that can be used to provide clean drinking water from any source. The 10-inch plastic straw acts as a portable water purifier and contains membranes, iodized crystals and active carbon, which removes waterborne bacteria and viruses. The group says the straws are meant to be an emergency solution to the water crisis. After straws are distributed in a community, the WATERisLIFE team commits to coming up with a longer-term solution within a year.
UNICEF works to provide clean water in more than 100 countries and is currently trucking in 6 million liters of clean water to Aleppo, Syria. According to UNICEF, it’s estimated that women and girls spend 200 million hours collecting water every day, which means they have less time to spend with family or attend school. Water and sanitation-related diseases are also one of the leading causes of death for children 5 years old and younger.