Water for People


Nov 2, 2011
Outside Magazine
woman in Ethiopia receives contraceptive counseling

A woman in Ethiopia receives contraceptive counseling and information from a Pathfinder-trained provider at a local clinic.    Photo: Jake Norton

BY THE NUMBERS: The group helped more than 188,000 people gain access to clean water in 2010.
WHO'S IN CHARGE: Ned ­Breslin, 46, formerly a Mozam­bique country representative for WaterAid, health and hygiene education manager for Mvula Trust, and development director for Operation Hunger
WHAT IT DOES: It’s estimated that 884 million people lack ­access to a reliable supply of clean drinking water. Each of Water for People’s projects, carried out in countries from India to Peru, is based on the organization’s four guiding principles: everyone in an aided community gets access to water and sanitation; representatives from local government, NGOs, and the local business community all must sign on to the plan; commitments must span at least ten years; and solutions, such as wells, storage tanks, gravity-fed piping systems, and latrines, are designed to last and grow as populations expand. In an ongoing project in Malawi, 48 new water kiosks were constructed. A local entrepreneur returns regularly to purchase the compost. His family earns enough to pay off the loan and save money, and the businessman sells the compost to farmers for a profit. To support the programs, which cost nearly $10 million per year, the organization has devised innovative fundraising initiatives. The ­latest: mountaineer Jake Norton is climbing each continent’s three highest summits to raise $2.1 million in donations.
EXTRA CREDIT: For seven years in a row, the project has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.
LOOKING AHEAD: Water for People just released a beta version of FLOW (field-level operations watch), a new monitoring system in which field workers use a cell-phone app to update the WFP website with the status of clean-water access in remote areas. Donors and staffers can chart progress on an online map updated in real time, sending money and volunteers to places that need it most.