The technical solutions presently exist for the world to take immediate action to drastically improve the plight of people and communities that are without adequate water and sanitation. The ability to impact on the problem of lack of safe water supply is basically about money. With adequate funding, the problem can be resolved.



The technical solutions presently exist for the world to take immediate action to drastically improve the plight of people and communities that are without adequate water and sanitation. The ability to impact on the problem of lack of safe water supply is basically about money. With adequate funding, the problem can be resolved.

There exist many organizations, profitmaking, nonprofit, and governmental alike, with the ability to have an effect on the problem. An organization can just jump in and piece together a string of accomplishments, which are in line with the general challenges and goals.

It would be nice to think that someone or some group could evaluate the potential projects and prioritize them in some meaningful way. To a certain extent this can be done on a rough scale by counting faucets and latrines, and comparing the numbers with demographic information. But the problem is much more complex than that, and there is no time to wait for someone to come up with the best problems to attack.

There are dozens of factors that influence where a group begins. The group must be knowledgeable about and have experienced in a country, city, and community. The various levels of government must be willing and able to provide assistance and support. There must be a community with a desire to do the project, and a willingness to and capability of contributing labor and resources.

Cost vs. Benefit
In the absence of an overall controlling body to prioritize projects, it is left to individual organizations to evaluate individual projects, to determine if their costs justify their benefits, and to determine which projects to undertake, and in what order.

No two projects are alike. How would you compare the following three projects?

• With the first community, the water nearby is polluted, but there is clean water a reasonable distance upstream. A means must be developed to capture the clean water, and deliver it by gravity to the town or to the individual houses therein.

• With the second community, there is clean water 30 feet below ground, but only difficult and costly access to drilling equipment and materials.

• With the third community, the only potential for delivering clean water would be to build a water tower 120 feet above the town, and an elaborate pumping system to deliver the water to families.

As a practical matter an individual not-for-profit organization makes a “business decision”. Although profit is not the objective, there are measurable goals that can be just as specific as profit. Whether we are looking at the cost per family of providing safe drinking water, or the projected number of lives saved by putting in a sanitation system, a well-constructed cost-benefit analysis will allow for the calculation of the value of individual projects.

Partnerships with Communities and Governments
Development projects can never be done in a vacuum. A project imposed on a community or government is doomed at the outset. Once a potential project is identified, based on need and impact, the important element of support must be looked at. The best projects are those that arise from the people of the community, those most feeling the need. If a community is organized, and has resources to contribute, be they matching funds or local labor, the project is well on its way. It a governmental entity, be it the national, regional, local, or community there is the beginning of a team to overcome all hurdles.

In the linked article Local Partners, found in our Articles section, you can read more about our approach to development, which involves working in concert with communities and the government on the ground.

Organizational Constraints
Each organization must evaluate the interests of its body and its ability to impact on the problems at hand. In looking at the entire spectrum of problems, it is immediately obvious that no single group can do everything, or said a different way, each group can do some things better than others.

There are many important issues that are part of the general water problem that Water Charity can tackle. However, given our limited resources, we must recognize that there are issues upon which we can expect to have but a limited impact, or that are beyond our ability to affect. These are outlined below.

Allocation of Resources Decisions
Governments and other entities are continually making decisions in prioritizing their limited resources. Is water more important than food? Where does it fit in when comparing it to problems of shelter, roads, air pollution, health care, or education? Whatever they decide these factors are taken as “given” in looking at our role.

Political Decisions
Government entities must decide how to divide water resources among the various geographical areas, groups and individual needs. They must decide whether water gets diverted for the use of one part of the entity or another. The government must prioritize individual water need against the use of water for agricultural, manufacturing, or even beautification needs.

Social Decisions
Overall decisions regarding the rights of specific segments of society, such as women and children, are not within our control. We do, however, have to take notice of various special needs, and give them due consideration.

Thus, when we are looking at projects, we must consider the part that women play in the projects, and the effects that the completed projects will have on women.

Our role in providing some help to the needy is simply defined as an “engineering” role. Engineers pinpoint a need, and look into alternative solutions to impact on the situation. They choose a solution based on all the factors at hand, including intensity of the need, potential to do good, funding available, materials and labor available, government involvement, and community participation.