Water Champion Highlight: H2O for Life

Water Champion Highlight: H2O for Life

At Connect for Water, we see a world where people, businesses and organizatons are working together to bring water products and solutions to those in need around the world through collaboration, partnerships, and support for the growth of local market channels. As we focus on partnership, a part of that is celebrating the work of organizations around the world. There is no one organization that is solving the water crisis, we must work to do that together. 

This week, we want to highlight the work of H2O for Life, an organization that works to educate youth on the water crisis. They offer a serving-learning opportunity designed to engage, educate and inspire youth to take action to solve the global water crisis.

It all started with Patty Hall, who received a cry for help from a small village in Kenya that was desperate to get access to clean water. She had built relationships there and one of her friends reached out saying there was a harsh drought. They had a river that flowed through the village, but it had dried up. They needed a sand dam so that they could collect water during the rainy season. She took action and introduced an idea to her school in New Brighton, Minnesota. The students got the opportunity to learn about the global water crisis and created an action plan to provide clean water to the Kathungu Village. They got super excited about the project and even raised double the amount of money needed for the village.

“We Actually Did This.” 

Once the money was sent and the dam was built, the villagers sent a video to the students in Minnesota. This is when it really hit home for the students and they saw they actually made this happen. The students were so excited to see that they had done such a great thing.

Reader’s Digest published a small article on the project which caught the eye of the Today Show. They eventually did a segment featuring the project and it led to a viewer reaching out to Patty. The viewer loved that kids were helping their peers around the world and encouraged her to get this program into more schools.

She decided to grow out the educational program and connected with more schools in the area. Students and teachers were very enthusiastic about the new program. It caused a culture shift in every school where it was implemented with students becoming kinder and more giving. They were learning that even as students, they could make a difference.

How It Works

Through this program, students and teachers can focus on a specific community to study or learn about the water crisis as a whole. They also use P&G Purifier of Water packets to see how dirty water can be changed to clean water. Then, they take action to fundraise for a project that they choose with H2O for Life. 

H2O for Life connects the classrooms with non-profits that implement the water projects. They have worked with partners like Freshwater Project International, Ugandan Water Project and The Water Project. In order to ensure sustainability and effective partnerships, H2O for Life evaluates the implementation partners. They ask questions of metrics, sustainability, and local involvement. In addition to implementation, H2O for Life requests completion reports, videos and photos. This is important as it creates accountability and it provides the classrooms in the United States with an idea of the impact their work had.

What You Can Do

As they look to the future, they hope to see more schools take advantage of the program and support more projects. Their programs were affected greatly by the pandemic with many school wide events cancelled, but they have hope as they grow in this new year. In addition to their classroom programs, they hope to create a teacher ambassador program that would allow passionate teachers to reach even more classrooms.

If you would like to learn more about H2O for Life, you visit their website. They are also always looking for schools that want to be involved in their program.

This is why we do what we do at Connect for Water, to connect you with those making a difference around the world. We can end the water crisis together.

Water Champion Highlight: Water Wins

Water Champion Highlight: Water Wins

We are always on the lookout for excellent organizations doing great work in the clean water space. One of the recent organizations that we got to hear from was Water Wins. 

It all began with recognizing a need for clean water. When a community has access to it, child mortality rates fall from 50% to less than 10% in children 5 and under. With this in mind, Water Wins decided to work with communities in the Eastern Kambari area of northwest Nigeria to drill wells to provide clean water and save lives. The relationships they build by drilling wells opens the door to further development including education, healthcare, agricultural programs and more.

The organization is non-profit certified in Nigeria and has a full Nigerian Board. There is also another board made up of volunteers from the United States who mentor and raise funds for the project. In addition, over 30 Nigerian employees are a part of Water Wins and do maintenance on the wells, run the drill rigs, evangelize, teach at their Academy and work in the health facilities.

After the initial installation of the wells, Water Wins works to do full community development which includes education, health facility creation, and agricultural projects. This led to them starting Water Wins Academy, the first primary and secondary school in the area. Classrooms have about 30 kids each and the families are so thankful for the opportunity for the children to learn. 

In each community, there is a sustainability plan in place. The schools and health facilities do charge a small fee. They also have the community pay about 20% of the upfront cost to have the well drilled. This helps the community buy into the project as well as create accountability for the future. In some communities they have also done agriculture projects, which helps the communities earn more income and pay a little bit more. Water Wins also has a maintenance team that regularly visits the communities to ensure the wells are working properly. If there is something that was not properly cared for, the community will be charged a fee to get it fixed. These factors of the sustainability plan ensure lasting change in the communities.

Four children stand by the well installed by Water Wins, filling their buckets.

The response to the work of Water Wins in the communities has been amazing. They have built trusting relationships with those in the Eastern Kambari area. There are over 500,000 people in that area and they have already drilled 500 wells in various communities. Yet, still they have only reached 20% of the communities with clean water. 

One of those impactful stories that the Water Wins team remembers is about a visit to a celebration in Nigeria by Pete Lanser, one of the original volunteers for Water Wins. Chief Rigito, one of the hosts of the celebration turned to Pete. He grinned from ear to ear and said, 

In a few short years, I have seen great transformation in my land- right before my very eyes. Even young couples are naming their first babies at elaborate naming ceremonies- ceremonies full of joy, hope and laughter! Who would have thought! Who would have imagined that a few years ago! Thank our benefactors. God bless you! I am done speaking!”

The village was full of joy and Pete realized the amazing transformation that had taken place. Before having clean water, they wouldn’t name their children until they turned one year old as a way to protect their hearts if they lost them. Now, they name the children at birth. It was a powerful moment, seeing the huge difference of clean water and the many children surrounding the celebration.

They also found that before villages received wells, women would spend four or five hours a day collecting water. As the impact of the clean water access grew, women in these villages were not able to spend time earning income for their families or taking care of their children. One woman shared with the Water Wins team that with the extra time she was able to use her artistic skills to make tapestries to sell in the market. This generated more income for her family and brought joy to her. 

Do you want to know how you can be part of the solution to the water crisis, bringing this joy and celebration? Consider being an advocate for the water crisis in your local community. Share the facts and connect your friends into clean water projects. 
You can also learn more about Water Wins by visiting their website at https://www.waterwins.com.

How do Hurricanes Affect Water Quality?

How do Hurricanes Affect Water Quality?

Hurricane season is upon us, and we know that this time of extreme winds, heavy rainfall and massive flooding can be devastating. Hurricanes destroy infrastructure and homes as well as create dangerous situations for those living there. In addition to these effects, there are some hidden issues that might not surface until the rains and wind stop. One of these issues is the lack of clean and safe water.

Three Effects of Hurricanes

There are a few ways that hurricanes affect freshwater supplies. First, we need to think of the water that is being pulled into the hurricane. As hurricanes churn over the ocean, they can bring rain that contains chemicals and undrinkable salt water. This rain then falls in rural areas where fertilizers and pesticides can quickly contaminate private wells.

In the urban areas, city fresh water sources can also become contaminated, making the water not safe to use or drink. This contamination is a result of the heavy rains and flooding. As the flood waters move, they bring with them enormous amounts of contaminants like chemicals, sewage, and other debris. Flooding waters can breach water reservoirs causing contamination that water treatment systems cannot keep up with. These waters will also contaminate surrounding lakes, streams and well water supply, meaning there is potential for overgrowth of bacteria.

In addition to the floods, high winds can result in falling trees and other infrastructure damage. This can cause water pipes to be broken, allowing for the water to be exposed to contaminants. The broken pipes will then take the contaminated water directly into water mains and lines into individual homes. This contaminated water poses great health risks to communities as it can carry diseases such as cholera, hepatitis, e. Coli and dysentery. The repairs on the water systems can be very costly and the contamination issues can last for years to come.

Historic Water Quality After Hurricanes

In 2012 as a result of Hurricane Sandy, more than 690 wastewater and drinking water utilities in 11 states were compromised. Within a few days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that more than 1,220 drinking water systems and more than 200 wastewater treatment facilities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had been affected. This caused a large outbreak of gastrointestinal diseases triggered by e. Coli due to the lack of safe water. 

How to Be Prepared

If you find yourself in the aftermath of a hurricane, avoid using your well water or tap water. It is important to get your water tested to ensure you are drinking safe water. If you are unsure of the safety of your water, be sure to boil the water or use a filter that will remove the contaminants. Check out Business Connect, one of our partners, to learn more about various water filtration and treatment options. Stay safe!

Sustainability Driving Change in Uganda

Sustainability Driving Change in Uganda

At Connect for Water, we often ask ourselves how we can bring clean water to those in need in a sustainable way. One of the ways our partners, Ekisinga Ministries, are doing just that is through water kiosks in Jinja Town, Uganda. 

Water Kiosk set up in Jinja Town, Uganda to treat contaminated water

Most of the Ugandan urban population get their water from the Uganda National Water and Sewage Corporation (NWSC).  Because most families do not have water running to their homes, water comes from community standpipes. Water is collected in jerry cans and brought back to the homes for consumption. Water testing has proven that the water quality is not consistent and contains microbiological contamination that leads to sickness and death.

It is well known by Ugandans that the water that comes from the NWSC standpipes must be boiled or treated before it can be consumed. Boiling water is accomplished by burning wood, charcoal or LP gas. These methods are expensive, use natural resources and are time consuming.

They also found that not all water will be consumed and thus does not need to be treated. Non-consumable situations include bathing and washing clothes. However, water that is consumed or used to wash dishes and fruits and vegetables needs to be treated. An affordable solution needed to address both of these areas.

Through your generous donations, two facility filtration systems were gifted to Ekisinga. These systems will be connected to the existing NWSC standpipe infrastructure to provide safe and reliable drinking water at affordable prices. The revenue will provide sustainable funds to maintain the filtration system for many years and pay for additional systems to be installed in surrounding neighborhoods. As community members typically purchase bottled water, this system will also help them save money and reduce plastic waste.

This is just one of the many ways your support has provided clean water to those in need. Sustainability is always a key aspect of the projects that we partner with. We have seen how projects that require participants to pay something for clean water have a much greater impact and multiply their impact.

Clean Water Situation in the U.S.

Clean Water Situation in the U.S.

City carved and built in side of a cliff

At Connect for Water, we are all about helping people gain access to clean water. We have partners in over 65 countries and are constantly reaching more communities with clean water. Yet what about the people in our own backyard? There are many communities across the United States that need access to clean water. We think of those affected by winter storms in Texas, those with contaminated water in Flint, Michigan and those living on American Indian Reservations. These communities have a real need for clean water today.

Many of these communities are in need of clean water because their water infrastructure has been damaged. In Texas at the height of the water crisis and winter storms in February 2021, nearly 15 million people did not have access to clean water. At first, the rolling blackouts caused many water treatment centers to be shut down. This lowered the supply to many areas. At the same time, freezing temperatures broke many water pipes. These factors combined to lower the pressure in the water systems which meant that bacteria was more likely to grow. Texans were encouraged to boil their water, but many could not even turn on their stoves without electricity. This led to many Texans reaching out to disaster relief organizations who brought in clean water. Natural disasters from the wildfires in the west to hurricanes in the southeast can cause clean water shortages. This is why it is so important to be aware of clean water solutions and how you can help in these situations. 

There are also many communities in the United States that do not have access to reliable water infrastructure. On many American Indian reservations, clean water is not readily available. According to recent research by NPR, more than 2 million Americans do not have access to clean water. Fifty-eight out of every 1,000 Native American households lack plumbing, compared with 3 out of every 1,000 white households. This leads to a higher rate of deaths, poverty and unemployment in these communities. Darlene Yazzie shared that she has to drive 9 miles to buy clean water. These communities are never able to raise enough money to pay for the extensive infrastructure needed to gain access to clean water.

We share these stories to encourage you to be on the lookout for opportunities to provide clean water in our own communities. We love helping in other countries, but what can we do to help our neighbors? If you would like to be a part of our work, in the US and around the world, become a water sponsor. This is a great way to partner with us.