1.4 million Children die each year due to contaminated water. To date, our nonprofit organization has engaged thousands of young people and has collectively brought clean water to over 200,000 people in 15 countries.
Hands 4 Others was founded in 2009 with a modest challenge: to look beyond the comforts of our comfortable lives and do something for others in need. Each of the board members, having traveled outside the United States, could not shake the images of children and families forced to spend most of their time gathering insufficient amounts of dirty water – water we would not bathe in, let alone drink. Our response to what we saw was to form Hands4Others.
Our primary program objectives include: designing and implementing viable solutions to the world’s water crisis by providing sustainable access to safe water in need. We work with numerous partners in 15 countries spanning Latin America, Africa, and Indonesia, and work with them to provide safe water to communities and community development and follow up to ensure our projects are sustainable.
Providing access to safe water we implement the following tactics depending on the community:
1. Well drilling, or
2. Purifying an existing water source such as a river, stream, or contaminated well by using one of our partners patented Living Water Treatment System.
Secondly, we ensure sustainability in our projects by emphasizing:
1. Community development including education regarding proper sanitation, and women empowerment.
2. Community buy-in through requiring communities to help contribute in minor ways (such as repairing the roads or building a brick building for the water filtration system) to ensure the tragedy of the commons does not occur, and creating local committees of community leaders so the community leaders will ensure the general community members will adequately respect and utilize the safe water.
Problem Statement/Needs Assessment
According to the World Health Organization (WHO): About 2.6 billion people – half the developing world, lack even a simple ‘improved’ latrine, and 1.1 billion people have no access to any type of improved drinking source of water. As a direct consequence:
- 1.6 million people die every year from diarrhea diseases (including cholera) attributable to lack of access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation and 90% of these are children under five, mostly in developing countries;
- 160 million people are infected with schistosomiasis causing tens of thousands of deaths yearly; 500 million people are at risk of trachoma from which 146 million are threatened by blindness and 6 million are visually impaired;
- Intestinal helminths (ascariasis, trichuriasis and hookworm infection) are plaguing the developing world due to inadequate drinking water, sanitation and hygiene with 133 million suffering from high intensity intestinal helminths infections; there are around 1.5 million cases of clinical hepatitis A every year.
Water Scarcity: Increasing Need, Decreasing Supply
A new focus for WHO is the development of water safety plans, that include analysis of water needs and usage and evaluation of water safety and system factors that lead to problems. The plans also include remediation of deficient factors, from operator training to repairs. However, goals need to be taken into account. Given increasing water scarcity problems and limited resources, should the goal be to create potable drinking water in large quantities, or would it be more viable to provide a small supply of high quality drinking water and greater quantity of less pristine household water for other uses? Many parts of the world suffer from physical or economic water scarcity; that may indicate a need to change how we use and value water.
The number of countries that are classified as water-scarce or water-stressed is projected to increase from 31 in 1995 to 48 in 2025 and to reach 54 countries in 2050. At the same time, the number of people living under water-scarce or water-stressed conditions will increase from 460 million in 1995 to 4 billion in 2050 (Hinrichsen et al., 1997). The implications of this scarcity are serious for global stability, food security, and health. In addition, global use of water has rapidly increased in this century for agricultural, industrial, and municipal purposes
Our primary objectives include saving lives by providing affected communities worldwide with clean water, and nurturing young people to create leaders that will make our world a better place. Communities must be educated and sustainable solutions to viable methods of sanitation must be implemented. In many communities in developing countries, humans and animals share the same water.
Step 1: Assessment
Assess the project for viability. How much will it cost? Is this community unified? Are the elders of the community committed to the project?
Step 2: Figure out the most cost effective approach to serve a community.
If there is an existing source of water we have no need to drill a well...if the water source dries up in summer months we will drill a well. How contaminated is the water? Does it require a full water filtration system or just a small variant?
Step 3: We set up a water committed board that we train to operate and understand the water filtration system.
Often the community elders will be a part of this board. Then we will require buy in from the community often in the form of improving roads, building a structure to house the water system, etc. These "mini projects" for them are cheap by our standards, but for them they are expensive. The thought process is if they can't pool $100 as a community to help fix the roads then how can we trust them a water system? How bad do they want it?
We will drill a well if needed, and if not we will pump their existing water source (powered by solar panels we will install) into a water filtration system that takes the water through three levels of sand filtration and a chlorination system. Often times we do not need the sand filters if the water quality solely contains parasites and bacteria. This water will be stored in a large tank.