WaterPartners Passes 100,000 Lives Milestone as World Water Day Approaches

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Organization brings sustainable sources of clean water to people in more than 100 communities in battle against world’s leading killer.

Water-related disease claims more than 5 million lives every year, but more than 100,000 people in developing countries now have a sustainable supply of clean water thanks to innovative programs spearheaded by Kansas City-based WaterPartners International. WaterPartners promotes cost-effective community water projects, extensive education on the importance of clean drinking water and sanitation and a range of other programs designed to give the people most in need the chance to not only survive, but dramatically improve their quality of life. Fifteen years after its first project in Honduras, the non-profit organization today marks this major milestone on the 14th World Water Day.

The water crisis in developing countries is taking a staggering toll, especially on women and children.

  • More than 1 billion people don't have access to safe, adequate water.
  • The average American family uses up to 176 gallons of water per day, while the average African family uses just five gallons.
  • Diarrhea, primarily caused by a lack of clean drinking water, is the leading cause of child death in the world.
  • More than 200 million hours are spent each day by women and female children walking to collect water — often polluted water.
  • The problem is not just rural. In some urban areas in developing countries, the poorest people have to take out loans at interest rates of 60% or more just so they can secure a reliable water supply. Poor people in the developing world pay on average 12 times more per liter of water than other citizens.

“The numbers seem overwhelming, and yet there are solutions available to help people in such dire situations get safe, sustainable access to life’s most basic need – clean water,” said Gary White, executive director, WaterPartners International. “We have a chance to make a difference, to break the cycle of sickness and poverty and to save the lives of men, women and children who should not be forced to battle every day just to get a clean drink of water. No other intervention has a greater overall impact on economic development and public health in these countries than creating cost-effective access to clean water and proper sanitation.”

WaterPartners projects combine innovative financing, expertise in sanitation and an emphasis on education. WaterPartners reaches out to local communities in need and partners with them to create local water committees. These committees oversee the construction to provide water in the area, as well as ongoing maintenance. WaterPartners empowers the local community to own the project, and this sense of responsibility leads to project success and sustainability. The projects dramatically improve the quality of life for a community and the ability of individuals to improve their own economic, social and physical conditions.

Not only do WaterPartners projects save lives and prevent illnesses, they also improve the quality of life in other ways. By greatly reducing the amount of time spent collecting water—sometimes several hours per day—time is gained for more productive pursuits, such as work and school. This is especially important for women and girls, upon whose shoulders this work disproportionately falls. Abundant water also allows for watering gardens, which significantly increases the amount of food available for families, while the surplus can be sold for income. In combination, these factors demonstrate the ability of WaterPartners projects to transform entire communities.

WaterPartners’ most recent innovation is the WaterCredit Initiative, which brings a micro-finance approach to the water issue for the first time. By making small loans available in places where credit is virtually unknown, WaterPartners has demonstrated that the world’s poor can successfully participate in financing their own water supply solutions, which has the potential to greatly accelerate the pace of water system creation in the developing world.

WaterPartners has now helped more than 100,000 people in over 100 communities around the world gain access to clean water. Countries served include Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Bangladesh, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and the Philippines. An additional 100,000 people were helped through emergency assistance efforts in Iraq.

About World Water Day

World Water Day is an international day of observance and action to draw attention to the plight of the more than 1 billion people world wide that lack access to clean, safe drinking water. In 1992, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared March 22nd to be World Day for Water to promote awareness of how water resource development contributes to economic productivity and social well being. WaterPartners International responded with One Day for Water (http://www.water.org/crisis/onedaywater.htm) – a program to create awareness and enhance education about the water crisis. Most people are not aware of this crisis, and much more information – including curriculum for schools and opportunities to help – is available at http://www.water.org. WaterPartners hopes to use our One Day for Water activities to bring more attention to the world’s leading cause of sickness and death.

About WaterPartners International

WaterPartners International is committed to providing clean drinking water to communities in developing countries. Working in partnership with donors and those in need of safe water, we have helped thousands of people develop accessible, sustainable, community-level water supplies. The philosophy of WaterPartners is to empower local communities to take responsibility for solving their own water problems. We work through partner organizations based in the countries we serve to create local water committees to oversee construction and the ongoing maintenance of the projects. Since the people who benefit have a real stake in the projects, they are far more likely to ensure their continuation.

More than one billion people lack access to a safe supply of drinking water. Water-related diseases are the leading cause of death in the world. WaterPartners was founded in 1990 because efforts to address the world's top health problem were inadequate and inefficient. Since then, WaterPartners has developed a 15-year track record for providing solutions that work, setting new standards for innovation and best practices in the sector. For more information, please visit http://www.water.org.

Press Release Contacts:

Steven Byers

913-312-8600

Jennifer Westphal

816-512-2241

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