Since moving to Peru four years ago, my husband Matt and I have lived without water more frequently than either of us ever imagined. While the minor inconveniences of dishes piling up, toilets going unflushed and no showers after morning runs are irritating, they also allow us empathize with people who live like this every day.
Big problems like this need big solutions.
When Water For People-Bolivia started working in the small, rural, high, dry municipality of Cuchumuela almost five years ago, not a single community had a potable drinking water system. As I write this today, we have just confirmed that only 30 some families now remain without a piped water system or rainwater catchment tank. Almost everyone has access to a safe water source.
But all of this time, money and effort will have been wasted if these water systems don't last; if they don't grow as kids turn into parents with homes of their own; if water is over-used and sources dry up. So while we celebrate these water systems, the work doesn't end when the last pipe is laid.
To insure a sustainable future for clean water access, we have supported the development of an Association of Water Committees to provide technical assistance, monitoring and even finances, if necessary, to the very small water utilities in each community. Using DROID technology, WFP and partners will annually visit every water system once a year to see if it is still working and publish that information on their website.
Since last year, Water For People has teamed up with Jake Norton, climber, photographer and creative philanthropist, who hopes to climb the highest three peaks on each continent to raise funds and awareness for the global water crisis. Although I have no plans to follow in his footsteps up Mt. Everest, using climbing as a venue to catalyze positive change in the world is something that resounds. Jake and team are hoping to raise $2.1 million over the next several years for Water For People and bring awareness of the global water crisis to 2.1 million people.
Little by little, we hope to achieve this goal and my dream of no more women having to walk to collect dirty water from ponds and rivers around the world.
I just got back from a spectacular tour of Water For People-Bolivia's program where we were able to also summit the highest peak in central Bolivia, Pico Tunari, at 5,035 meters (over 16,000 feet!). As part of Challenge 21, we're hoping to raise $5,035 for Water For People by the end of the month, so that long hikes uphill to collect water become a thing of the past for not just the 30 families in Cuchumuela, but for the millions of Bolivians who hike not for fun but to have water to drink.
We are so close.
-- Contributed by Kate Fogelberg, Regional Manager for Water For People's South America program.