At a restaurant earlier this week, a waiter asked me if I wanted tap water or sparkling water. Without blinking twice, I said tap water–and then realized how much underlying privilege that single question held.
Not only do we have clean tap water for drinking, showering, and washing clothes, but we also have “fancy” waters. We have mineral water, sparkling water, carbonated water, flavored water, and even “artesian water” from Fiji. LaCroix and San Pellegrino have become Millennial staples. Compared to the developing world, the first world has an embarrassing “excess” problem: single-use plastic water bottles piling up in landfills.
Yet, nearly a third of the world’s population lacks access to safely managed drinking water services. That’s 2.1 billion people not having access to clean water.
For 14-year-old boys like Adalberto who live in the Dominican Republic, bottled water was too expensive to afford. Although his community had a well, the water wasn’t clean enough to drink. In fact, another organization had found harmful microorganisms such as coliform bacteria in the water. Plus, this sub-par water was scarce: families would line up as early as 4 a.m. to fill up their jerrycans.
As a result, Adalberto suffered from strong stomachaches due to parasites that provoked diarrhea and skin problems. His mother took him to the doctor where they prescribed him pills, but he would get sick soon after.
Motivated by the urgency of the community’s needs, FH provided funds to install a water purification system in Adalberto’s community. The leaders chose the perfect location, and soon it became a team effort to raise awareness about purified water consumption and correct hygiene practices.
Food for the Hungry’s programs in water, sanitation, and health (WASH) are holistic, just like our view of poverty. Since the installation, Adalberto’s health and that of his family has drastically improved!
Through a three-fold WASH approach, this is how your contribution to FH is bringing sustainable water solutions to the hardest places.
1. Influencing Hygiene-Related Behavior Change
Through FH’s proprietary Care Group model, volunteer community health workers (CHWs) teach their neighbors life-saving health messages to change unhealthy behaviors. These messages include the importance of hand-washing, handling of food and water, and waste management. After seeing the impact in her own family’s life, Adalberto’s mom is now a Care Group leader. Raising awareness for good hygiene behaviors can trigger the community’s own desire for change–and keep future generations healthy.
2. Building Water Infrastructure
Depending on the geography, clean water solutions can come in the form of wells, clean water springs, water filters, purification facilities, and more! As women are often the largest gatherers and users of water, FH ensures that women are included in the leadership of WASH committees. They are instrumental in decision-making for water point location selection by considering areas that do not put women and girls at risk.
3. Sustaining the Impact
After a well is dug or a water access point is built, the work isn’t done. Equipped with tools like pump toolkits, FH also works with local partners to rehabilitate water points and sanitation facilities. Community members form WASH committees and learn internal governance, financial management, and water system and latrine maintenance.
By sponsoring a child for $38/month, you can ensure access to clean water for a child living in poverty. You can also purchase items like water filters in the gift catalog.
Clean water is a luxury we too often take for granted. Will you be part of the solution in bringing clean water to youth like Adalberto in the Dominican Republic?