News / Africa

Using Ingenuity to Combat Global Water Crisis

Monaliza Noormohammadi

The United Nations says there is enough fresh water for everyone on earth.  Yet nearly 1.6 billion people still face water shortages, due to inadequate infrastructure, uneven distribution and wasteful practices.  There’s an organization in California, called WellDone, that is working to lessen this global water crisis, by implementing new approaches to an old problem.

Much of the work goes on in WellDone’s headquarters building south of San Francisco.  Designers work to create compelling logos and user-friendly web layouts to spread the word on global water shortages. The goal: to help thousands of families gain access to clean water. Josh To is co-founder and head of development at WellDone, ”A lot of times people say you need education, you need sanitation infrastructure, roads schools, but without access to clean water like how can you do any of the other things?” To questioned.

Experts say having clean water can lead to greater economic and educational opportunities particularly for women who take on most of the burden of fetching water from distant sources.   WellDone promotes well-building in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The non-profit organization serves as a conduit -- raising awareness and money, then channeling the proceeds to water development organizations that do the actual work.

”We're addressing sort of two facets of the water crisis Gross overuse here at home and then non-availability in the developing world,” Jim Yoon said. Yoon is head of projects.

To spotlight high water consumption in the United States, the group created a program called Water for Water, in which intense water consumers agree to reduce their water usage and send their water bill savings to WellDone's clean-water projects.

Using interactive technology, WellDone also plans to implement a new web platform called Future Building.  It will allow donors to purchase and donate specific hardware
for well-building. To reduce overall costs, WellDone and its partner organizations require villagers who benefit to do most of the manual labor.    

”We don’t want to be that Western organization that shows up, saves the day takes the credit and then heads back and shares a wonderful story," To said. "We’re just sharing what we have with them.”   

To and Yoon first met in college.  After graduating, they served in a church mission to Ghana, where they saw children swallowing malaria pills with filthy water.    

”Here we were trying to in some way alleviate their suffering," Yoon explained. "Yet the very water they’re using to take down this medicine is probably making them sick in the first place.”

Inspired by their experience in Africa, the pair drew on support from friends and family to create Well Done in 2010.  So far, WellDone has completed more than 75 clean water projects that have benefited more than 10,000 people. And To and Yoon have set their goals even higher, hoping to complete 300 water projects in the year ahead.

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