Creating Long-term Value for Families, Health Clinics, Schools Lacking Access to Clean Water | Black & Veatch

Water For People

Creating Long-term Value for Families, Health Clinics, Schools Lacking Access to Clean Water

Water for People is an international nonprofit based in Denver, Colorado, that was founded in 1991 to bring lasting water and sanitation services to communities that severely lack access to clean water. Black & Veatch Senior Vice President Donnie Ginn serves on the organization’s Leadership Council. With Water for People’s 2023 Fall fundraising campaign in full swing, Ginn makes the case for the organization and donating to the campaign.

People are barraged with requests to contribute to all kinds of worthy causes. Why donate to Water for People?

The clear, overriding reason is the need. Water changes everything. If it’s not clean and available or if there’s too little of it, then there’s work to be done. We need access to clean water and sanitation to sustain life and have viable communities. While most in the U.S. are fortunate, even take water for granted, elsewhere that’s not the case. Globally, 1 in 4 people do not have access to safe drinking water, and nearly 1 in 2 do not have access to proper sanitation facilities. The ramifications of poor water infrastructure are staggering. Let me share just a couple examples. Almost 3.5 million people die every year from water-related diseases. Lack of water and sanitation is an even greater challenge for women and girls. They are often the ones responsible for water collection in their communities and spend an enormous amount of time in search of sanitation facilities. With effective water services in place and all that time and effort back, think of the possibilities that open – to go to work or school, to lead more productive lives. Water for People makes that happen.

Why Water for People, specifically?

Central to the answer is that the organization was founded by water experts from consulting engineering firms – among them Black & Veatch. Whether it’s planning, the infrastructure or operations, Water for People is led by professionals who understand the issues inside and out and have the networks, knowledge, and experience to deliver practical solutions that communities need.

How does that make the organization effective?

Water for People collaborates locally with key stakeholders – community members, businesses, governments – to serve two core goals. Establish sustainable water and sanitation systems and supply training and tools to keep the systems maintainable for generations. The organization is in it for the long haul, partnering for years with communities to meet their needs. It currently has teams in Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, India, Malawi, Rwanda and Uganda, creating value by providing support to families, health clinics and schools.

You noted Water For People’s work globally. What about in the United States?

Neglected or no water infrastructure, poor water quality – these issues exist in the U.S., too. More than 2 million people here live without running water and basic sanitation. The issue extends from Flint, Michigan to Jackson, Mississippi, from Appalachia to Hawaii. To extend its programming to the U.S., Water For People last year began working with the nonprofit group DigDeep to close America’s water gap. The goal is to implement community-led solutions via a WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) sector, which is essentially a coalition of NGOs, government agencies, funders, researchers, technologists, and community advocates. Water For People’s website has details on how it is working to create a US Wash sector.

How can people help?

There are a lot of ways to contribute, such as giving at work. Black & Veatch’s Government & Water Utilities business has made a significant pledge to the Fall campaign, and the company has an employee match program to augment donations by its professionals. Other ways include planned giving, vehicle donations, and so on. Whatever people can contribute is appreciated. A $1 donation multiplied many times adds up. For those ready to donate now, it’s easy. Click here.

Need for Clean Water

Society depends on clean, accessible water. Without it, people suffer, even die from poor health. Economic development shrivels. Environments become unsustainable. The scale of the need worldwide is massive.

  • People lacking access to clean water – 2 billion

  • People without proper sanitation facilities – 1 in 2

  • Estimated economic losses from poor water - $260 billion

  • Deaths per year from water-related diseases – 3.4 million, including 450,000 children

  • Hours every day that girls spend collecting water – 6

  • Percentage of climate disasters that are water-related – 90% approximately

Impact of Water for People

The organization works with local stakeholders and government partners to establish clean and sustainable water services. Its impacts from 2022 include:

  • People reached with new or improved sanitation services – 296,767

  • People with new or improved water services – 229,682

  • Communities with new or improved water services – 505

  • Improved access to water, sanitation, hygiene services – 171 schools, 22 health clinics

(All figures provided by Water for People.)

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