If you are a regular follower of Water Street and American Water, the work of the international nonprofit Water for People is already familiar to you. To recap the mission of this organization, Water for People “works across 9 countries to bring safe water and sanitation to 4 million people.”
Although we’ve seen great progress in developing technology to give more people greater access to water, the numbers driving the Water for People mission remain staggering:
- 2.1 billion people around the world don’t have access to safe water
- 4.5 billion people around the world lack access to adequate sanitation
While we’ve talked a lot about Water for People in the past, I’d like to bring to your attention what I consider two major differentiators in their mission.
The first is the focus on sanitation. Most people think of “helping those in need of water” in terms of getting safe, clean water to communities for drinking, cooking and bathing. But lack of water for sanitation is a less frequent topic of conversation and one that, thankfully, Water for People is bringing to the forefront. Take note of how much water you use to flush toilets in a day. Then think “beyond the bowl” to imagine the vast amounts of water used to safely transport your waste to treatment plants. Lastly imagine the waste that would accumulate in your home, on the streets, etc. — not to mention the contamination—if water wasn’t available for this purpose.
The second differentiator is one that may seem like a negative at first glance: Water for People never fully funds projects. Wait, what?! That doesn’t sound very philanthropic nor productive, does it? Actually, when you look deeper into it, it’s a brilliant strategy. Water for People is about empowering communities to sustain their water resources and systems.
To put it simply, Water for People isn’t only providing water that might help a community for the short term. They are also teaching communities so they can benefit from plentiful, consistent, safe water supplies for generations to come. Their work demonstrates collaboration at its best as Water for People projects focus on helping local governments, businesses and other key groups gain the know-how, tools and planning they need to establish—and continue—their systems for clean water and sanitation.
This April, American Water employees are once again participating in a fundraising campaign for Water for People because we see so much of their mission reflected in our own. From the pursuit of providing clean water for everyone, forever…to their strategies of empowering people and sustaining strong water solutions, we are proud to support a mission that is changing our world.