By Bryan Schaaf on Tuesday, September 22, 2009.
At the opening plenary of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Water.org co-founders Matt Damon and Gary White announced a $2 million commitment to provide 50,000 people in Haiti with safe water and sanitation over the next three years. Water.org has also launched a social media campaign so that anyone can participate in meeting the water challenge in Haiti. Click here to learn how you can become involved with either your time, financial support, or both.
“The situation in Haiti is extreme – it’s the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and nearly half of its people don’t have access to clean water,” said Water.org Co-Founder Gary White. “Expanding Water.org’s programming to Haiti will help people break the cycle of disease and poverty.” Water.org’s Haiti Commitment will reach beneficiaries with grant-driven programs while also exploring opportunities with microfinance institutions in Haiti under its WaterCredit Initiative. WaterCredit is a financial innovation that brings microfinance to the world’s poor who lack safe water and sanitation. It is the first comprehensive program of its kind to move beyond grant-driven charity and enables microfinance activity in the water and sanitation sector. WaterCredit leverages commercial capital and motivates microfinance institutions to launch loan portfolios to assist the poor who lack basic water and sanitation services.
The Haiti Challenge is a new website that encourages visitors to fundraise and “friend-raise” for the cause through their online social networks. Getting a friend to really care about the water crisis is as important as asking for a donation. The website includes new technologies that leverage the most popular social media sites, making it quick and easy for people to invite their friends and followers to support the cause.
More info on the importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene below:
- 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease. (11)
- 43% of water-related deaths are due to diarrhea. (11)
- 84% of water-related deaths are in children ages 0 - 14. (11)
- 98% of water-related deaths occur in the developing world. (11)
- 884 million people, lack access to safe water supplies, approximately one in eight people. (5)
- The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. (1)
- At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease. (1)
- Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use. (12)
- An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country slum uses in a whole day. (1)
- About a third of people without access to an improved water source live on less than $1 a day. More than two thirds of people without an improved water source live on less than $2 a day. (1)
- Poor people living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city. (1)
- Without food a person can live for weeks, but without water you can expect to live only a few days. (4)
- The daily requirement for sanitation, bathing, and cooking needs, as well as for assuring survival, is about 13.2 gallons per person. (3)
- Over 50 percent of all water projects fail and less than five percent of projects are visited, and far less than one percent have any longer-term monitoring.
- Only 62% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation - defined as a sanitation facility that ensures hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact. (5)
- 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, including 1.2 billion people who have no facilities at all. (5)
- The majority of the illness in the world is caused by fecal matter.(9)
- Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection. (9)
- At any one time, more than half of the poor in the developing world are ill from causes related to hygiene, sanitation and water supply. (9)
- 88% of cases of diarrhea worldwide are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene. (9)
- Of the 60 million people added to the world’s towns and cities every year, most occupy impoverished slums and shanty-towns with no sanitation facilities. (8)
- It is estimated that improved sanitation facilities could reduce diarrhea-related deaths in young children by more than one-third. If hygiene promotion is added, such as teaching proper hand washing, deaths could be reduced by two thirds. It would also help accelerate economic and social development in countries where sanitation is a major cause of lost work and school days because of illness. (6)
Impacts on Children
- Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. (2)
- Children in poor environments often carry 1,000 parasitic worms in their bodies at any time. (8)
- 1.4 million children die as a result of diarrhea each year. (11)
- 90% of all deaths caused by diarrheal diseases are children under 5 years of age, mostly in developing countries. (8)
Impacts on Women
- Millions of women and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources. (1)
- A study by the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) of community water and sanitation projects in 88 communities found that projects designed and run with the full participation of women are more sustainable and effective than those that do not. This supports an earlier World Bank study that found that women’s participation was strongly associated with water and sanitation project effectiveness. (7)
- Evidence shows that women are responsible for half of the world’s food production (as opposed to cash crops) and in most developing countries, rural women produce between 60-80 percent of the food. Women also have an important role in establishing sustainable use of resources in small-scale fishing communities, and their knowledge is valuable for managing and protecting watersheds and wetlands.
Impacts on Productivity
- On average, every US dollar invested in water and sanitation provides an economic return of eight US dollars. (1)
- An investment of US$11.3 billion per year is needed to meet the drinking water and sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals, yielding a total payback for US$ 84 billion a year. (11)
- Other estimated economic benefits of investing in drinking-water and sanitation (11) :
- 272 million school attendance days a year
- 1.5 billion healthy days for children under five years of age
- Values of deaths averted, based on discounted future earnings, amounting to US$ 3.6 billion a year
- Health-care savings of US$ 7 billion a year for health agencies and US$ 340 million for individuals
What Can You Do?
Join us was we combat the water crisis and work for the day when everyone in the world can take a safe drink of water.
- Sign up to receive Water.org’s monthly eNewsletter with our latest stories, projects, events, and ways you can help.
- Bring someone clean water for life: Donate.
- Get involved in your school, community, and/or church, and spread the word.
Water in the News
Read the latest headlines by clicking here.
Water.org launched new school curriculum materials in March 2008. Aligned with national standards, the lesson plans and mini-units include elementary, middle and high school levels. Stand-alone lesson plans are part of larger units that cover a broad scope of subjects including English, science and technology, and social sciences like geography, civics and economics. Classroom activities cover everything from poetry seminars and vocabulary-building worksheets to science and math lessons about potable water availability. Funding for this global water supply curriculum project was provided by the Open Square Foundation. Download Water.org’s Global Water Supply Curriculum now. Interested in reading more?
For additional Information:
- 2006 United Nations Human Development Report.
- Number estimated from statistics in the 2006 United Nations Human Development Report.
- Asian Development Bank web site. 2009.
- The Discovery Channel web site. 2009.
- UNICEF/WHO. 2008. Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: Special Focus on Sanitation.
- UN. 2007. International Year of Sanitation Global Launch
- UN Water. 2008. Gender, Water and Sanitation: A Policy Brief.
- UN Water. 2008. Tackling a Global Crisis: International Year of Sanitation 2008
- Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). 2008. A Guide to Investigating One of the Biggest Scandals of the Last 50 Years.
- Rajesh Shah of Blue Planet Run Foundation. http://www.bhopal.net/dowunioncarbide/archives/2006/07/worldwide_race.html
- World Health Organization. 2008. Safer Water, Better Health: Costs, benefits, and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health.
- World Health Organization Fact Sheet Health in Water Resources Development.