Readers may have noticed the “Global War for Water” article featuring Matt Damon’s charity Water.org in the Aug 2011 issue of Fast Company Magazine. The article’s author Ellen McGirt did an excellent job in highlighting the great struggle that so many of the world’s population endure every day just to get access to clean drinking water. Matt Damon’s charity organization called water.org is on track to raise $10 million in 2011 according to the author.
What I found especially interesting and actually quite unique was that the funds are not simply used to purchase equipment or labor on well drilling or re-routing of existing waterways. The game plan, if I understand it correctly, is for water.org to act as a water systems planner first and then as liaison and bridge maker between the village needing the new water supply and the banks or investors that are willing to provide financing. This allows the villagers to have a direct hand and responsibility in creating and paying for the new clean water source. Then, when the project is completed and paid off, the villagers own the system outright. I know from direct experience dealing with thousands of entrepreneurs and customers that if the recipients lack “skin in the game” that there will be no pride of ownership or personal responsibility and eventually the new system (and its equipment) will not be maintained, will likely fail to work, and ultimately be wasted. Needless to say I was intrigued by this concept as well as moved by the great need in many parts of the world for access to clean water. A number of water fact examples were cited in the article and these are some that impacted me:
a. About 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated.
b. 3.6 million people die each year from water-related diseases.
c. Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water supply is readily accessible for direct human use.
d. Millions of woman and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources.
Our new healthy water company is in its fledgling season but I’ve gotta tell ya, when we get ready to commit to our first grouping of charities, it’s likely that water.org will be among them.