Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving Water

If two of your five best friends didn't have a sanitary place to go to the bathroom, you'd probably do something about it, right? You'd let them come over and use yours, or you'd work with them to build something suitable for their own household.

Over on the new Giving Water site, I just learned that two out of every five people in the world don't have access to basic sanitation: a sanitary place to go to the bathroom. And over a billion people in the world don't have access to clean drinking water.

Now. Say what you will about "GO WHERE THE FOOD IS!" and its applicability to the global water crisis, this strikes me as a pressing issue for humankind today. Giving Water was founded by the head of Ethos Water -- the water you can get when you go to Starbucks -- with the mission of helping people around the world in need to gain access to safe water, improved sanitation, and hygiene education.

I learned about Giving Water when I was bootlegging live-streaming the annual Blackbaud Conference and boning up on the latest in philtech (that's "philanthropy technology" to you and me). Peter Thum, founder of Giving Water, announced this new initiative at BBCon and I think it's something that we can all get behind.

Giving Water focuses mostly on East Africa -- Kenya, specifically, which seriously must have the best voluntourism marketing ministry of the entire developing world because, my God, it's all happening in Kenya. My own experience of water scarcity stems from my experience last year in Sierra Leone and Liberia and, five years ago, in Ghana (all located, for the geo-impaired, in West Africa). Seeing how precious the resource was -- and feeling a little guilty for having an almost unlimited clean-water supply for our team's use -- really made me think differently about how I use water here at home.

Whether you make a donation to Giving Water (which you should) or not, one thing you can do to make a difference is think critically about how you use water. Here in the US, we're probably good to go, water-wise, for our lifetimes -- and, probably, for a long time beyond that. But around the world, that certainty isn't true. Think about what it might be like if you only had clean water after hiking two miles (uphill, both ways, in the snow, barefoot, ha ha -- but seriously) to get it. Think about how you might live differently if the bathroom was a latrine out back instead of the restroom down the hall from your office. Think about how you would wash dishes differently or bathe differently or care for your garden differently.

Just think.

That's what's going to make the difference: thinking about how and why we do the things we do and making intentional choices about doing them in the way that makes the biggest positive impact with the smallest negative trade-offs.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am afraid of heights and will be stepping down off my soapbox. :)

1 comment:

jss said...

You inspired me to shut the water off while I was brushing my teeth this morning!