The Water Team helps get clean water to those who don’t have it.
We believe that every person on this planet has the RIGHT to have access to clean water.
We build water wells and advocate for clean water by contacting different governments and encouraging them to provide this essential resource for their people. We also promote clean water awareness.
How We Do It
- Since 1992 have built water wells in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Guatemala, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Liberia, Nigeria, and Haiti.
- We are actively encouraging the Canadian government to provide clean drinking water to the First Nations communities . It is estimated that 20,000 First Nations people living in reserves across Canada do not have access to clean running water. In particular the Team is campaigning for the Lubicon Cree residents of Little Buffalo whose water supplies have been contaminated by the Alberta Tar Sands.
- The Team also works on behalf of the residents in the Niger Delta whose water has been contaminated by the Shell Oil drilling fields.
- Most recently we are investigating the contamination of our West Coast water as a result of the nuclear fallout from the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor Accident.
- We promote water awareness in the school system by encouraging teachers to talk about water issues and encourage their students to reach out and help their fellow students worlds away who are struggling with inadequate supplies of clean water.
The problem is huge
1.3 billion people don’t have access to clean water. Having to drink dirty water causes major sickness and suffering to the extent that 4 million people die every single year from the effects of drinking contaminated water. One person dies every 8 seconds. It doesn’t make the news the way a plane crash or a tsunami does – but the numbers of people dying is so much greater. That’s over 10,000 people dying EVERY DAY!
Millions more are suffering from water-related illnesses such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid, guinea worm and hepatitis. It is estimated that 80% of all illnesses are caused by drinking dirty water.
If this current trend continues, 2/3 of the people on the planet will not have adequate access to clean water by the year 2025.
And it’s not just the sickness and death that is such a tragedy. Lack of clean water means that hundreds of thousands of women and children have to get up before dawn each day to walk an average of 6 kms with 20 kgs of water on their heads. The girls come back too tired to go to school and so the education levels of the community decrease.
The women come back too tired and with not enough water to tend their gardens so the nutrition levels of the community decrease. And the dirty water they carry back, makes the villagers sick and unable to work, so the productivity levels of the community suffers. That is why lack of clean water is the root cause of poverty. Safe drinking water is basic to human survival, dignity and productivity.
Peter H. Gleick, president and cofounder of the Pacific Institute states “the failure to provide safe water and adequate sanitation to all people, is the greatest development failure of the Twentieth Century.”
Millenium Development Goals
One of the United Nations Millenium Development Goals is to reduce by half the proportion of people who are unable to reach or afford safe drinking water by 2015. This will cost $101 billion dollars or $6.7 billion annually. And it can be done. We simply need to shift our focus. The U.S. spends 1000 billion dollars annually on the arms trade (maybe we could fight just a little less?). Europe spends $11 billions dollars annually on ice cream. (maybe we could eat just a little less ice cream?).
James P. Grant, former Executive Director of Unicef said: “ We have a choice. We can continue with “business as usual”, neglecting the poor majority, or we can shift our focus to providing ‘some for all rather than more for some’ By opting for the latter we can shape a better and more just new world order and contribute to environmental sustainability into the 21st. century”
The Water Team started out in 1992 with a membership of two. We had a foster child named Shamiso with World Vision in Zimbabwe who wrote and told us they had a drought and the animals were dying – we arranged for a well to be drilled in her village and saw the amazing transformation of the village after they got clean water.
Everyone became healthy, the animals thrived and gave milk and meat, there was enough water for a vegetable garden so the villager’s level of nutrition improved and there were extra vegetables so Shamiso’s mother, Elizabeth, started a farmer’s market and started bringing in extra income. The next 9 years were spent researching different organizations that built water wells, and funding bore holes, water containment systems, pipe lines and holding tanks.
In 2001, World Vision held a fun run in Vancouver and we formed a running team – called The Water Team. There were 15 of us on the team and we raised enough money to build a water well in Mozambique. In 2002 the team ran again in the World Vision Fun Run and we raised the money to build a water well in Nicaragua. In 2003, World Vision decided not to sponsor the fun run any more and The Water Team decided that we didn’t need to run, we could just remain a team and keep donating money to this important cause.
We discovered a great organization called Lifewater Canada, completely run by volunteers, that wins the award for low overhead and maximum amount of money going to the building of water wells.