Water is key to survival. We literally can’t live without it. That stark truism is a major contributing factor in the poverty, disease and despair of hundreds of millions of people who lack access to safe drinking water – and billions more who live without adequate sanitation.
The water crisis is an enormous and complex issue, but there is reason for hope. From new wells and emergent technologies, to local initiatives and international collaborations, concerned individuals and organizations are working unrelentingly to provide sustainable solutions to this ongoing humanitarian challenge.
Water.org occupies a unique and influential niche in this concerted global effort. For 25 years, Water.org has been focusing on a simple, behind-the-scenes intervention that has had – and continues to have – an outsized impact on the well-being of families and communities around the world.
Thirsting for change
It all boils down to economics. People living in poverty tend to pay dearly for water. For many families, more than 20% of their income is squandered on exorbitant fees for this non-negotiable necessity. The frustrating reality is that in most areas of the world, the cost of a water connection and toilet in a family’s own home is substantially less than what they are paying annually to buy water.
For low-income families who can’t afford the one-time investment in new infrastructure that would break this cycle, the obvious solution would be to take out a loan. However, financial systems in developing countries have traditionally not offered micro loans to the poor for water and sanitation. Which is where Water.org steps in.
A small loan, a big impact
Water.org works with existing financial institutions to make small, affordable loans for water improvements to people living in poverty. If that sounds like a bad bet, consider the fact that more than 99% of these loans (90% of which were made to women) have been fully repaid. And when a loan is repaid, that money is again available to help another family achieve water independence.
The return on investment for these loans extends well beyond the obvious savings that result when families no longer have to bankrupt themselves to pay for water. With less time and money devoted to the daily search for safe water, families are able to focus on improving other aspects of their lives. Pursuing work and education opportunities. Prioritizing the health and well-being of their children. Becoming involved in efforts to strengthen their communities. The good news is that all of these things have been happening all over the world – long after Water.org makes its initial, empowering investments.
Where access to safe water is limited, families pay an enormous price in terms of health, education and lifetime opportunity. Women and children are typically responsible for collecting water, a sometimes dangerous task that can take up to 6 hours per day – hours stolen from school, work and family. And in situations where safe water is not consistently available, water-borne illnesses exact a devastating toll in terms of human suffering, debilitating medical expenses and lost productivity.
None of this comes as a surprise to people impacted by the water crisis. They have been quick to understand and embrace the ramifications of an investment in water independence for their families. They recognize that water security means personal and economic security, healthier children and more resilient communities. For the millions of people who’ve already benefited from Water.org’s unique mission – and the countless millions this innovative non-profit organization still hopes to reach – that’s a worthy investment.
To find out more about how Water.org is tapping new sources of capital in a world thirsting for change, visit www.water.org. To find out more about how Legistics can collaborate with you to make great things happen in the coming year, visit our home page.