“Why water?” This is the lead in to mission statements for most existing water charities and a question that first prompted me to join World Thirst to help with support and development. Unlike in the developed world, the idea of clean, accessible water is not just a passing thought for hundreds of millions of people; it is a pipe dream – a necessity they don’t have but can’t live without. Personally, I grew up knowing my true calling was to help people but it wasn’t until my teenage years that I asked myself: why water?
When I was 16 I traveled to Honduras with a group from my high school and quickly became acutely aware of the water crisis affecting most third-world countries. I was immediately impacted by seeing young children drink tap water that is brown and littered with floating sediment. Most people, including these children, are aware that this water is unsatisfactory for drinking and it tears at your heart to know that they have no choice. Clean water means life, but dirty water can mean just the opposite. This makes the answer to “Why water?” much more clear. Because contaminated water can lead to a plethora of diseases and is responsible for over 840,000 deaths every year. Why water? Because women and children spend 40 billion hours every year gathering water from wells and streams when they could be in school or playing. Why water? Because villages, towns, and even whole countries fight over life’s most basic necessity.
Many of these facts lend themselves to the frightening rhetoric of overwhelming need in our world, but do not, dear reader, allow them to depress you. World Thirst and other clean water organizations exist because people asked themselves “Why water?” from a different perspective than what was familiar and comfortable. Why water? Because it is a problem with scores of solutions based in sociology, engineering, politics, etc. Solutions are accessible and both immediately impactful and sustainable in the long term. Why water? Clean water solutions are the easiest way to positively impact the most people regardless of age, location, race, and beyond. Why water? Because every dollar invested in water projects generates a 4-12x return as a product of economic growth.
Robert Kennedy once said, “There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why…I dream of things that never were and ask why not?”
Why water? Why not water?