Thirst Project: Thirsty for Change
Water is the most essential element of life. That’s indisputable. However, as of today, there are 844 million people who lack access to basic drinking water. That’s about 1 in every 10 people across the globe, with the issue of water scarcity affecting every populated continent. The absence of a reliable and clean water supply obviously impacts the availability of safe, drinkable water, but what many are unaware of is that it also has a negative domino effect on health conditions, education opportunities, poverty conditions, and economic development. In many areas with poor water conditions, there is also a lack of basic sanitation, contributing to the spread of diseases and, ultimately, resulting in the daily deaths of 4100 children under the age of five who suffered from a waterborne illness. What’s equally shocking is the fact that women and children must walk, on average, 3.75 miles every single day to a reliable water source. That’s a six to eight hour trek for water, precious time that takes away the opportunity for children to gain an education and for women -- whom the responsibility of fetching water often falls upon -- to maintain a steady job and provide for their families. Furthermore, communities that are water insecure also suffer from food insecurity because the lack of a nearby, clean water source limits their ability to “develop sustainable agriculture production” throughout the year.
That’s a lot of disheartening facts but it’s important to acknowledge and educate ourselves of the reality of the global water crisis and how it affects a surprisingly large percentage of our population. Be conscious that these statistics aren’t just numbers but are actual people who unfortunately suffer from the consequences of not having a close, reliable, and safe water supply.
Now that you are equipped with this information, what can you do? That’s where Thirst Project comes in. Started by a group of Southern California college kids back in 2008, Thirst Project is on a mission to educate and mobilize young students across the United States to fundraise and build sustainable wells in water-scarce communities. With 100% of the $10 million raised in the past ten years, the organization has completed more than 2,800 water projects and provided 394,559 people in 13 different countries with safe, clean water from sustainable hand pump freshwater wells that can last up to 40 years with proper maintenance. With clean water, disease rates and child mortality drastically drop, communities are able to build an agricultural foundation for food, children can get an education, and women are free to secure a job. It’s truly incredible how such a simple thing as water can alleviate and heal so many aspects of life.
The team at Thirst Project is proactive in conducting proper research prior to well installation, engaging with community members, and remaining transparent throughout their entire process. They’re committed to ending the water crisis not only by providing clean water to the people who need it most but also by empowering people to take action. Touring schools across the nation, Thirst Project is educating students and encouraging them to take part in ending the global water crisis, whether that’s making a donation or traveling to a water-scarce community to build a well. Their passionate activism is infectious and reminds everyone that we can make a positive change in the world when we work together.
Julia Eunji Choi