Goal Number 6 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aims to provide access to improved sanitation and improved water sources to everyone by 2030. If this goal is actualised, over 600 million people who currently lack access to clean water along with more than a billion without access to adequate sanitation will have at least the basic access to these two essential health and hygiene giving facilities popularly known as WASH (Water Sanitation & Hygiene).
Providing water sanitation and hygiene following an emergency situation such as an earthquake, landslide or other disastersis the preserve of very large NGOs. Large NGOs and UN agencies have the capacity, logistics and resources to deploy clean drinking water and portable sanitation facilities to places where it is needed within a very short span of time. When it comes to helping small, rural, often remote communities in developing countries with WASH intervention; both large and small organisations have significant parts to play.
A small UK based WASH NGO called Hope Spring Water, is one of a new generation of smaller charities working to alleviate water poverty in Africa. Registered as a charity in 2015, Hope Spring’s main focus is building wells and boreholes for developing communities whose access to clean drinking water is located more than one mile walking distance from home.
In addition to its core focus on water sanitation and hygiene, Hope Spring believes that small NGOs like itself should actively engage in helping the communities it works with in breaking the cycle of poverty, which is one of the biggest barriers to poorer communities bettering themselves and taking charge of their economic future. The most important demographic targeted in the alleviating poverty through WASH is women and girls.
In water poor African communities, the burden of fetching water for the household falls mostly on girls and women. The time women and children spend carrying water in Africa is said to be comparable to the total number of hours the entire workforce of France, one of the largest economies in the world, put into productive work each year.
According to the co-founder of Hope Spring, Mr Temitope Odurinde, if developing communities are helped to access clean water closer to their homes, billions of man hours spent trekking to collect water of dubious quality will be better spent on education and community development. He argues that some of the communities he has come in contact with understand the importance of sending children to school.However, if there is no clean water for bathing, cooking and drinking before a child can go to School, what is the point of going to school dirty and hungry?
It was found by researchers that in poor communities without adequate water supply, more girls go to school if a water source is located within 15 minutes or less from home than in communities where girls have to walk more than 15 minutes to collect water.
Case Study: Small NGO making big impact with small budget
Small NGO with big impact
The efforts of NGOs large and small are crucial to helping communities that lack access to clean water and ways to sanitise it. One erroneous assumption that seems to pervade the understanding of the general public about helping poorer communities access WASH is that only large NGOs have the capability to help. Admittedly, whilst large NGOs are able to do a lot more than smaller ones; the vital contribution made by smaller organisations should not be underestimated.
Smaller charities tend to have more connections in the communities where they work, which tends to give them better insights and understanding of the needs of those communities. Because they are not as well-resourced as large NGO, smaller charities also tend to achieve a lot more for less money than their larger counterparts.
A good case study of a small charity making a huge impact in the lives of a water poor community is a recent project completed by Hope Spring Water in Nigeria. Working with local partners, who either gave a significant discount or waved their fees completely, Hope Spring rehabilitated a borehole that serves a community of up to two hundred people for a fraction of what it would have cost a larger charity to achieve.
The project, known as the Kong Bari project, provided the community with 7,500 litres of water daily. The new capacity ensures each household in the community can have access to water; a feat which was not possible prior to the Hope Spring water project in the community. Apart from the health benefit brought to the community because they now have clean water to cook and wash; women and children of the community who used to walk long distances do not need to any more. This is expected to translate into more children getting to school on time without being exhausted from miles of walking they used to do to collect water.
Some facts about water crisis in Africa
- In Sub-Saharan Africa, 71 percent of the burden of collecting water for households falls on women and girls.
- Women in sub-Saharan Africa spend about 40 billion hours per year collecting water. 40 billion hours a year, it the total number of hours put in by the entire work force of the world 5th largest economy, with a GDP of $2.9 trillion: France.
- In some African countries, girls school attendance was 15 percent higher for girls from homes located 15 minutes or less from a water source than for girls in homes one hour or more away.
- In communities severely affected by water shortages, Women and girls are said to spent up to 6 hours each day collecting water.
- Reductions in time spent collecting water have been found to correlate with increase school attendance across most water poor communities
- In some parts of Africa and Asia, women and children walk an average of 3.7 miles a day to collect water.