Funding will go directly to supporting provision of safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and help create water, sanitation and hygiene programs
A new initiative led by Nevada’s Desert Research Institute (DRI) is aiming to dramatically reduce the number of people around the world without access to clean water. Each day, more than 783 million people around the world do not have access to clean, drinkable water or showers or proper baths. In 2015, more than 2.5 billion people also will lack access to basic sanitation in the developing world. This latest initiative focuses specifically on women, who often bear the brunt of the impact from lack of access to safe water; and in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa walk up to four hours per day, on average, to carry clean water back to their villages and families.
“As part of DRI’s Global Water Knowledge Campaign, this initiative builds on more than 20 years of water research and training our scientists have done in West Africa,” said Dr. Stephen Wells, DRI president. “By raising support to provide women throughout these developing countries with access to adequate water sources and access to training we will ensure their family’s well-being and allow them more time to contribute to their villages.”
The DRI Sustainable Water Initiative is an international collaboration with WaterAid, Water For People and World Vision. Collaboratively, these three organizations currently have water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs in more than 41 countries. Since 1981, WaterAid has helped 21.2 million people gain access to safe water. In 2013, Water For People raised more than $14 million to support its “Everyone Forever” campaign, providing water and sanitation services in more than 15 countries. Currently, World Vision’s WASH programs reach one million beneficiaries per year.
“The knowledge and experience of these organizations working together (in the WASH sector) will be transformational for the regions being served,” said Charles Creigh, DRI Foundation chair. “Through a generous challenge-grant investment from two long-time DRI Foundation leaders, this global campaign plans to support DRI faculty and students helping to advance our knowledge of water-related issues and improve people’s lives and well-being.”
Dr. Braimah Apambire, who will lead the new initiative and serves as director of DRI’s Center for International Water and Sustainability, explained that funding will go directly to supporting provision of safe drinking water and basic sanitation; creating and implementing WASH education materials for women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa; training of WASH staff; applied water research; and ensuring that WASH projects are sustainable and scalable in developing countries.
The impact of unsafe water, and inadequate sanitation and hygiene is felt around the world, with both human health and economic implications, Apambire explained.
In places like sub-Saharan Africa, a significant percentage of the population is at risk of dying from preventable illnesses, many of which are linked to WASH issues. More than 500,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. Diarrhea is the second biggest killer of children under five years old in sub-Saharan Africa.
In economic terms, 5.6 billion productive work days are lost every year due to complications arising from water-related diseases and the burden of fetching water.
Helping to manage and raise awareness for the DRI Sustainable Water Initiative will be Global Impact, which works with approximately 450 public and private workplace giving campaigns to generate funding for an alliance of more than 120 international charities. Since 1956, Global Impact has generated more than $1.7 billion to help the world’s most vulnerable people.
“One organization working alone is not enough to make the sustainable difference that is needed in the WASH sector,” said Scott Jackson, president and CEO of Global Impact. “All of these stakeholders working together will help ensure access to clean water, which does more than save a woman’s life—it ensures her future.”