Although you may not be aware if you live in the developed world, access to clean, drinkable water doesn’t come easily for many of the world’s inhabitants. In fact, 780 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, about two and a half times the entire United States’ population. In addition to this, 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene related causes, almost entirely in the developing world. One of the companies on the cutting edge of combating these realities is WATERisLIFE.
WATERisLIFE (WiL) is a not for profit company that focuses on bringing clean water to those in need by utilizing both short and long-term solutions, such as providing clean drinking water as well as sanitation and hygiene education programs. With a mission that states “to provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene programs. Saving Lives. Transforming Communities,” WiL doesn’t want to simply airdrop bottles of Poland Spring to those in need of water, instead opting to try to completely change the ways of life in places where not having clean water is the norm. Even though the former of these options might be easier, WiL always goes into a new area with its long term goals in mind.
Before WiL can work to change an area’s infrastructure they must first make sure that the inhabitants have at least a temporary way to get clean water. In order to do this WiL has developed water filtration straws that they provide to villages and disaster areas in order to provide immediate access to clean water. Using this straw gives anybody access to clean water in seconds; all they have to do is put the end in the water source and suck through it like you would a normal straw. It doesn’t require any electricity or rely on moving parts, working solely from the energy provided from sucking. The water goes through several layers of filtration that remove harmful bacteria and viruses like typhoid, cholera, and e-coli. While the filter straws can provide enough clean water to the average person for a whole year, WiL recognizes that this product does not provide a viable long term solution. Once it is clear that the population has at least temporary access to clean water, WiL moves onto the next phase of its planning.
While the filtration straw is a great temporary solution, the next part of the process is to make changes within the community in order to develop long term, self-sustaining sources of clean water. This entails creating community Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Action Groups in order to assess the situation and outlook in a community as well as collaborate to develop these self-sustaining sources of water. WiL works closely with other nonprofit partners as well as local governments and community organizations in order to come up with an integrated approach to providing clean water not only to households, but also schools, orphanages, and medical facilities. It is WiL’s hope that through these initiatives kids can spend more time learning in school, men and women can learn a trade or open a business and perhaps most importantly, sickness will be reduced and overall health improved.
Even though WATERisLIFE’s goals and ambitions may be more admirable than your own company’s doesn’t mean you can’t utilize the strategies they have developed. Although you will need to come up with short term solutions to problems never lose sight of what your long term goals are. If there is a challenge you are facing don’t simply apply a Band-Aid when surgery is required. Despite the fact that you may see immediate improvement, perhaps your compromise will lead to an unfavorable situation down the road that could have been avoided if you had planned better. Also don’t be afraid to get other people’s opinions. Collaboration and integration are a key part of WATERisLIFE’s success and you’re sure to miss out on some great ideas if you never seek them out. Since WiL is a nonprofit they do their best to keep operating costs low in order to ensure that every dollar can go towards providing someone clean water. While you may not be a part of a nonprofit maybe it’s time to take a look at your operating costs anyway and make some changes if they are too high. You may not end the world’s clean water problem but with these tips and a little perspective you’ll be back on the track to success.