community, donation, drinking water, natural disaster, ngo, outreach, unicef, united nations

Disaster in Haiti: Loss of Life and Lack of Water

A catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. The 7.0 magnitude quake was centered offshore the populated capital of Port-au-Prince. One of ten deadliest in history, causalities range from 50,000 to 200,000 people. Almost three million of the country’s nine million people are affected, and many are still trapped in the rubble. Aid efforts have been hampered by the scale of impact and current instability of the Haitian government.

Survivors are in desperate need of drinking water. Running water is not available due to damaged pipes. A lack of clean drinking water after this type of disaster can lead to dehydration and widespread waterborne illnesses. The Government of Haiti commandeered two water treatment facilities and is sending water to the capital in trucks. Four US ships are en route with desalination units to produce 25,000 liters of water a day. Another aircraft carrier, stationed off the coast, can produce 35,000 liters of water a day. Two NGOs, Water Missions International and Oxfam, left water-filtration systems in the country. Red Cross is dispensing bottled water, food, and medical supplies. UNICEF is distributing water and sanitation supplies to help protect the health of children.


Above Photo: Survivors collecting water from a broken water main in Haiti. Courtesy United Nations Photo on flickr.

The best way to help victims in Haiti is through monetary donations! To donate for a variety relief efforts, please see these links on Water Wired. To donate for water-related relief efforts, please see the links below:

Water Missions International
Previously established in the country to work on water-supply concerns, they shipped 10 desalination units to the region after the quake. They are collecting money for water-related relief efforts.

Water.org
In September 2009, this organization committed to provide safe drinking water to 50,000 people in Haiti. Now they are helping re-establish local water-focused NGOs. They are collecting donations to restore/expand water services in Haiti.

UNICEF
UNICEF is focused on distributing supplies related to water and sanitation, therapeutic food for infants and small children, medical supplies, and temporary shelter. They just appealed for donations of 120 million USD to help with relief efforts in Haiti.

CARE
This long-standing NGO is distributing emergency water purification tablets to local hospitals. They will distribute water purification tablets, buckets with covers, jerry cans and other water containers, hygiene kits, high-energy biscuits, plastic sheeting and cooking kits to 50,000 to 75,000 people in Haiti.

Oxfam
This well-known organization recognizes that clean drinking water is “the most immediate problem.” They are shipping 10 tons of water, sanitation, health, and shelter equipment to the area and collecting donations for these endeavors.

charity: water
This NGO, based out of New York City, is dedicated to raising money for water-supply projects in developing nations. They are accepting donations for health-related (that is, water, sanitation, etc.) and general efforts for partner NGOs in Haiti.

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africa, agriculture, community, drinking water, groundwater, ngo, visions of water, visions of life, water availability, water management

Visions of Water, Visions of Life: ECAG in Kenya

This is the second interview for the series Visions of Water, Visions of Life. Today’s interview is with Gibson Munanga. He is the director of an organization called Environmental Community Assistance Group (ECAG) working on water and land issues in rural Kenya. And, let me tell you, Gibson is one busy director. He works as a teacher at a school for the deaf. Somehow he still manages to find time to dream-up ideas, organize work parties, and implement a variety of projects to ensure water and land sustainability in his village.

Gibson and Kids
Above Photo: Gibson and students at Kakamega School for the Deaf.

Your organization originally started growing tree seedlings and working on land restoration projects. Can you please tell us why you decided to direct your focus towards water issues?

Our organization began and is still growing tree seedlings and working on land restoration projects. In the course of undertaking these, we encountered enormous challenges to finding water for irrigating the tree seedlings in preparation for planting during the rainy season. Water problems are a chronic issue here in the dry and rainy seasons. We have not shifted our focus, but we had to approach them [water and land restoration issues] at the same time because they go hand-in-hand. We left water problems to be addressed by ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE GROUP. The tree nursery and land restoration projects are handled by our co-organization called WESTERN TREE NURSERY, SEED COLLECTION, STORAGE AND VENDING GROUP.

What is the water situation in your village? What is the water situation in Kenya?

The water situation in our village is bad. People have to walk long distances in search of water. This mainly affects women and children (especially their standard of education and quality of life). The overall water situation in Kenya is worse. In Turkana, Pokot, Ukambani and other northeastern parts of Kenya near the border with Somalia, the search for water may take a whole day. It takes over a year for these places to receive rains, which may last only a week or luckily a month. This type of rainfall pattern can not support crop growth or open-water systems. It is rocky and expensive to drill for water in these areas. The water is very deep.

What do you believe is the solution to improve the water situation in your village?

The solution to improve the water situation in our village is to strategically situate boreholes in central places where water can be used easily by families. In addition, many trees were destroyed in most water catchments over twenty years ago. Water-catchment friendly trees should be planted in those areas because many small streams and rivers have dried up. The range of climate and rainfall in our village allows for rainwater harvesting. Provision of water-harvesting tanks would help to solve water problems here. Provision of water lorry tankers [see picture below] would help provide water to people during extreme water shortage events for a small fee.

Lorry Tanker
Above Photo: This is the type of water tanker that ECAG would like for their community.

Do you talk about water issues with your students at the school for the deaf? What do the children believe is the solution to improve the water situation in your village?

[The students are deaf so they wrote their answers on a chalkboard. Mr. Munanga took pictures of their answers with a camera. Please see the forthcoming post called Kakamega Youth Talk About Water Problems in Kenya.]

Has ECAG completed any significant water projects?

Six years ago ECAG constructed a very successful water project [well] at Alfred Amulyoto’s home (in Kambiri in the Kakamega District) to serve neighboring communities. Community members agreed to maintain the well pump through small donations. We constructed another successful water project [well] at Emily’s home (in Sichirayi) with the help from neighboring homes. Another water project [well] was constructed at Mr. Peter Matwanga’s home (in Khayega Village) which services a big homestead and 15 nearby homes.

What are a few other non-water projects that ECAG has completed?

We are producing tree-seedlings for planting in water-catchment areas. We are propagating medicinal trees for blood purification, stomach problems, malaria treatment, and other ailments. We are propagating fruit trees to alleviate hunger and provide vitamins, and we are propagating trees for firewood. In a nut-shell, trees are very much related to water, environmental issues and rainfall-storage quantity.

What is your advice for future generations on water?

My advice for future generations on water issues would be to conserve water and use it wisely, protect all water sources, and plant trees. Every drop of water counts!

For more information about ECAG or if you would like to make a donation, please visit their website here.

drinking water, international, outreach, sustainability, water availability

YouthNoise DROP Campaign

Lately, I’ve been so busy with grad school that I’ve neglected my blog. Luckily, there are people like those over at the Youth Noise Drop Campaign still working tirelessly to improve global water and sanitation conditions.  Previously, I let you know that they were hosting a summit in NYC for young activists to learn more about global water issues. Well, they hosted the summit and have posted the video on their website.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Plus, the Drop Campaign website is super cool. They offer monthly tips on water conservation and water actions, have links to a whole community of other individuals interested in global water, and encourage people to be more aware of global water issues.

drinking water, general, international, outreach, sustainability

Happy New Year from Terre des hommes Foundation

A beautiful happy new year image from Terres des hommes Foundation (Tdh).  Tdh works to “defend the rights of children, in times of war or natural catastrophe, or in less publicized situations of distress.”  This includes working on issues of water and sanitation for children, especially in emergency situations. They are currently collecting donations for the children in the Gaza Strip.

tdh_happy-new-year_20091

drinking water, international, outreach, sustainability

13-Gallon Challenge – WRAP UP

Well, I made it. Yesterday was the last day of my 13-Gallon Challenge. All told, this was a completely worthwhile project. I had two goals at the beginning of the challenge: 1) to better understand my daily water use habits, and 2) to understand how it feels to live on a human right allocation of 50 liters (13 gallons app.) of water each day. For the most part, I achieved these goals.

Over the week, I became intimately familiar with my daily water-use habits. Whenever I could, I tried to reduce or limit my water use. Even this morning (after the challenge), I couldn’t help but use the stop-watch again for my shower. See, habits really do die hard. Yet, living with indoor plumbing in an 1100 square-foot house, it would be difficult for me to ever approximate the life of someone in a developing country through this 13-Gallon Challenge. The water challenges that many people throughout the world face are much greater – think carrying water for eight-hours each day or human feces littered on the ground. But, at least I started educate myself and others about the water-access challenges that many endure.

Okay, I must admit I am a little happy to be done. Mostly, because I want to wash a load of laundry. Also, because it was difficult to calculate my water use every day for a week. First, I had to remember to write down my water use immediately after each usage. Then, I had to estimate each usage. Luckily, I settled on over-estimating each usage (rounding up) which made my calculations a bit easier in the long run. So, if I drank three cups of drinking water throughout the day, I would just write .25 gallons of drinking water. Remember, there are 16 cups in a gallon.

Here are my water use totals from yesterday.

day-7-pdf-pages

Every day of my weekly water use totals will soon be posted on the 13-Gallon Challenge Page at the top of my blog. And it will also be a place for you to take a one-day version of the 13-Gallon Challenge. Check back soon.

 

 

audio, drinking water, international, outreach, rainwater, research, sanitation, sustainability, water treatment

‘Global Water Challenge’ Competition

Ashoka’s Changemakers and Global Water Challenge have partnered to open a worldwide search for ideas and projects that, when scaled-up, have the potential to transform the provision of sanitation and water.

All entries are due by Wednesday, March 26, 2008 6:00 pm EST (21:00 GMT).

Currently, over 149 entries have been received from 45 countries with ideas such as:

  • Affordable household filters that remove arsenic and microbes.
  • Biosand water filters in India.
  • Implementation of water harvesting ponds in Ethiopia.
  • Rooftop water harvesting programs.
  • Solar water-distillation for potable water.

Listen to this excerpt on the ‘Global Water Challenge’ Competition from today’s edition of Marketplace!

drinking water, drought, film, groundwater, international, outreach, sustainability, united nations, water availability

World Water Day to Highlight the Global Water Crisis

About 4,500 children die each day from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation facilities. – UNICEF


‘A mother in Delhi, India, helps her son drink from a public tanker on World Water Day 2007’, photo on BBC News.

World Water Day 2008

Events happening across the globe draw international attention to a lack of available and clean drinking water supplies on World Water Day, whether celebrating March 20th (as so noted in this post on Water Wired) or on the typical March 22nd.

According to the United Nations, this year’s World Water Day theme will emphasize ‘Sanitation’ to coincide with the designated International Year of Sanitation.

Confusion about the date of the event this year (to account for a religious holiday on the weekend) certainly has not hindered many from observing the need to focus on global water issues.

March 20th Events (to name a few)

Global Water Challengeand Ashoka’s Changemakers invite people to submit entries for the competition to solve the global water crisis: “Tapping Local Innovation: Unclogging the Water and Sanitation Crisis“. One million dollars in funding is available to help implement these projects, and entries are due by March 26, 2008.

Shekhar Kapur launches a blog on Changemakers.net inspired by his latest film, ‘Paani’ (Water), which will examine the daily struggle for water in the slums of Mumbai.

The Our World – Our Water group on Flickr is launched to encourage those from around the world to share photos and stories about water.

March 22nd Events (to name a few)

WaterPartners Village — a virtual exploration of the water crisis — will launch across social networking sites like Second Life on World Water Day. A virtual concert, with proceeds to support global water organizations, will start at 5:00 pm (PDT) on March 22, 2008 at the WaterPartners Village stage.

Worldwaterday.net is organizing events across the United States that observe World Water Day including organized walks to raise money for the global water crisis.

Gramalaya in association with WaterPartners International and WaterAid – UK is organising World Water Day 2008 in Tamil Nadu, India. The event will be attended by more than 20,000 women from 430 villages and 186 slums in Tiruchi City will be participating. The event will be telecast at Suryan FM 93.5.

WorldWaterDay.org features events happening across the globe and on the Internet.

The Film Connection supports World Water Day by featuring several films about water for viewing and discussion about global water issues. ‘With this film program, we invite you to take a closer look at how individuals experience and utilize this diminishing resource.’

The above poster is part of an outreach campaign by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

drinking water, international, outreach, sanitation, sustainability, united nations

WASH-in-Schools Initiative: Campaign Launch by Water Advocates

Wash-in-Schools” (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) is a campaign to ensure safe drinking water and sanitation facilities for schoolchildren throughout the world. This program, first introduced by UNICEF and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council at the 3rd World Water Forum in 2003, has been joined by growing list of non-profit organizations, foundations, corporations, and schools.

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Water Advocates, a non-profit organization in Washington DC, will be launching their Wash-in-Schools Initiative on March 12, 2008. This non-profit has the goal to expand the WASH program to 1,000 schools in developing countries while creating the momentum to help as many additional schools as possible worldwide.

The public is invited to the official Water Advocates WASH-in-Schools Initiative Launch:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The National Geographic Society Grosvenor Auditorium
1600 M Street NW, Washington, DC

The event will feature videos of schoolchildren in the developing world as well as comments from individuals including Dr. Peter Gleick, President and Co-founder Pacific Institute; Gil Garcetti, Photographer of “Water is Key: A Better Future for Africa;” and Alexandra Cousteau, co-founder Earth Echo International.

For more information on how you can be involved, please contact Andra Tamburro at 202-293-4047 or atamburro@wateradvocates.org.

To attend the event, please RSVP to Katie Delisio at WaterAdvocatesRSVP@gmail.com.

asia, technology, water treatment

Will micro-financing or micro-franchising increase the use of water purification in homes in developing countries?

This is a question faculty and students from University of North Carolina School of Public Health, the Kenan-Flagler Business School, and the Kenan Institute-Asia will attempt to answer. They will be working primarily in the Mekong Subregion of Asia. It is a main goal of the project to make available household water filters to those with no access to clean water in the home. Another aim of this research is to find a way to increase the long-term sustainability, viability, and use of these technologies. Micro-financing and micro-franchising are two models being evaluated for increasing long-term sustainability.

One way we hope to enable these technologies to reach scale is to provide small loans to people who wouldn’t qualify for conventional loans, and help them franchise small businesses. We’ve found that giving the filters or other technologies away is not sustainable and doesn’t really promote the continued use of the technology. We believe we can find models that will be successful in getting point-of-use (home) water purification products into the homes of people who need them

It will be interesting to follow the progress of this research in the Mekong Sub-region. For more information on this research, please see the press release issued by UNC.