Though access to fresh water has always been an issue for many residents that live in third world countries, it has become even more so now, thanks to the increase in population as well as climate change, which is causing many previous sources to dry up. According to water.org, a non-profit organization founded by Hollywood star Matt Damon and social entrepreneur Gary White, over 750 million people around the world have no easy access to clean water - This means that they spend copious amounts of time collecting this liquid gold, that most of us obtain, by simply turning on a tap.
According to experts, women and girls in low income areas have to walk as much as 3.7 miles every day, to fetch water from the communal taps set up by the government. This adds up to a whopping 200 hours collectively or enough time to build 28 Empire State size buildings daily! What's even worse is that many of the water bearers are young girls who collectively miss 440 million school days a year on this unproductive activity.
The irony of the whole situation is that if they could afford to build the plumbing, the residents could have the water channeled directly to their homes. That's because the pipes that carry the liquid to the communal water points, often lie right under the village grounds.
To enable the residents to gain access to the water, Damon and White came up with a brilliant idea. Why not provide the people that wish to have amenities closer but can't afford to pay, a 'Water Credit' - a loan that can be paid over two years? Since the program began three years ago, over 1.5 million people have applied for the $180-$200 USD to not only bring piping to their homes, but also, add another amenity that we all take for granted - toilets. According to Damon, over 98% of borrowers return the money when its due!
What's even more heartening about the program is that it has freed up the women to use the extra time to work at real jobs and make money and the children to do what their more privileged peers have been doing for years - go to school regularly!
Resources: water.org, news.yahoo.com