charity: water stories

For People and the Planet

Our local partners are setting new standards for sustainability.

by Mercy Weaver

Clean water.

It’s one of our planet’s most valuable resources. And for 703 million people around the world, it remains out of reach.

But it’s not enough just to bring clean and safe drinking water to those who need it most today. You have to ensure that it’ll remain available for their children—or even their children’s children— tomorrow. And whether you’re serving in the deserts of Ethiopia or the Himalayas of Nepal, you face the added challenge of protecting the environment in the process.

Because access to clean water shouldn’t just make life easier. It should help keep communities beautiful for the generations to come.

Our local partners are finding innovative ways to do just that.

In Kenya, they’re nursing watersheds back to health.

German aid organization and local partner Welthungerhilfe (WHH) serves the residents of the Makueni region, around 70% of whom are drinking dirty water. The hills are made up of young volcanoes, so the rich soil is ideal for farming and features relatively healthy water catchments. (Catchments are areas where rain or spring water naturally flows, like streams, rivers, or lakes.) However, a lack of forest cover has threatened the water quantity of aquifers, raising concerns about the long-term availability of groundwater throughout the region.

In 2021, WHH faced this problem head-on with its goal to plant 10,000 trees and establish 10 tree nurseries (primarily around family farms and communal sites like schools). They’ve mobilized the local community to engage in mass tree-planting events, successfully supporting watershed health around waterpoints.

In Malawi, carbon cuts costs.

United Purpose Malawi (UP) has been serving the Dowa District since 2013, where at least 29% of the population doesn’t have access to clean water. The water from older water points is often incredibly salty, which leads many to collect water from dirty rivers and ponds. Boiling dirty water costs women valuable time and fails to prevent all waterborne diseases (not to mention the negative environmental impact). But digging boreholes—wells with handpumps—in rural communities eliminates the need to boil unsafe drinking water. This reduces carbon emissions. And with the “carbon credit” these projects earn, UP can fund additional maintenance to keep boreholes fully operational.

In Ethiopia, small beginnings support big goals.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has served in southeastern Ethiopia since 2000. Their efforts primarily focus on improving access to clean water from natural springs, and they’re consistently innovating to adapt their response to increases in human contamination and adverse weather.

IRC Ethiopia encourages communities to plant trees to help protect and purify water catchments. They recently realized that seedlings (young tree sprouts) could further support these efforts by revegetating catchments that have lost plant cover. They’ve therefore begun collaborating with the regional government to distribute more than 24,000 tree seedlings. They plan to give at least 100 tree seedlings to each of their 148 water projects. Their work is helping improve water quantity and quality for rural communities, while simultaneously furthering the country’s reforestation goals.

In Rwanda, the work is rooted in sustainability.

Water For People (WFP) has plenty to be proud of. In 2020, they celebrated helping provide water coverage to the entire District of Rulindo—a milestone ten years in the making! But they also have bold plans for the next ten years, and adequate tree coverage is essential to water security in Rwanda. To combat the effects of deforestation in their region, WFP is being forward-thinking and creating detailed Water Resource Management Plans for the conservation and protection of water resources.

In Nepal, community collaboration creates a greener future.

Nepal is rich in beauty and natural resources. The country is overflowing with rivers, but few are easily accessible to rural communities. The dangerous mountain terrain makes travel difficult, and limited access to electricity necessitates innovative solutions. Local partner HELVETAS utilizes gravity-fed and solar-powered piped systems to bring spring water to schools and homes in the remote Karnali Province. But renewable energy is just the beginning. They’re also implementing Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Programs. They’re empowering communities to consider and plan for their holistic water needs—from sanitation in schools to irrigation of their crops—so that water continues to flow for years. This allows them to focus on the sustainable development of water resources in the future.

Seeds of good are taking root.

We’re incredibly proud of our local partners’ efforts to invest in the long-term environmental health of rural communities. And when you give to charity: water, you’re empowering their efforts.

We’ve seen thousands of our supporters around the world sacrifice and strategize for clean water. Our friend and Tiny Hero, Josiah, even started his own recycling business! (Yeah, it feels pretty cool to know a 10-year-old entrepreneur.) But anyone, anywhere, can make a difference.

Maybe you decide to turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, or turn off the lights when you leave the room. Maybe one day you can walk or bike to work instead of driving. But whatever you do to help leave the planet better than we found it, thank you. In doing so, you’re taking a small step toward sustainability—and in the process, supporting our local partners around the world.