Women and the WASH Crisis

by Lauren Adamson

Jeanette A. Brown, Ph.D. spoke about how women have the potential to help alleviate the WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) crisis. At the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Brown explained that women in rural communities of developing countries often lack access to clean water and hygienic waste facilities. Women in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa fear using nearby latrines because of the risk of sexual assault, whereas the men in most of these communities can relieve themselves in undesignated areas, Brown explained.

Brown also pointed out that women must be seen as a resource in solving this problem and the issue of safe water because, “Women are more likely to commit to projects since they see the value for their children and the community at large. A study by the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) of community water and sanitation projects in 88 communities found that projects designed and run with the full participation of women are more sustainable and effective than those that do not.” At Wells Bring Hope, we have long understood the important role that women must play in transforming villages with safe water. When we drill a well, a committee is formed to oversee and administer that well, and the committee must be at least fifty percent female. In addition, we provide microloans to the women in villages where we drill so that they may use the time they would have spent walking for water to develop small businesses. As Brown points out, if women were given more opportunities like these to work together and be leaders in WASH projects, their work would go a long way in helping their communities and ending the worldwide water crisis.

To read more about Brown’s speech and women helping the WASH crisis, see Women Could Play Key Role in Correcting Crisis in Clean Drinking Water and Sanitation Crisis, published in Science Daily.

Volunteer/Supporter Appreciation Barbecue

by Jessica Isaac

On August 12, WBH Founder and President Barbara Goldberg hosted the annual Wells Bring Hope Volunteer/Supporter Appreciation Barbecue at her home in Los Angeles. The grill was fired up as guests mingled in the California heat, enjoying the shaded backyard and getting to know each other.

{Brad Driggers and Barbara Goldberg}

{Nick Privatelli mans the grill}
{The Frazee Family} {Nate Damodaran and Nathan Chong}
{Lauren McCluskey, daughter Lia, and Gil Garcetti} {Sharon Croskery and Tamara Hoffman}

Local musician Xander Smith of Run, Run, Run played an acoustic set while Daniel Yadlosky (videographer) and Kristin Allen (interviewer) took the opportunity to conduct short interviews with the WBH volunteers and supporters to see what really drives the people behind WBH.

{Daniel Yadlosky films while Kristin Allen interviews
Dennis Ogojo and Rosario Lopez of L.A. High}
{Xander Smith of Run, Run, Run}
{WBH Director of Microfinance Hadiara Diallo with L.A. students Rosario Lopez and Dennis Ojogho and Dennis' mom, Esther} {Kate McEvilly of Chadwick School
poses with her mom}
{The Kareem Team – Rosalie, Abigail, and Stephanie} {The Kilroy family and Barbara Goldberg}
{Mandana Azad, Barbara Goldberg, Gil Garcetti, and Alan Azad} {Melissa}
{Rosalie checks out her raffle prize – a copy of Water is Life by our own Gil Garcetti} {Kevin Kilroy and Kaira Robertson}

The evening's presentation began with many thanks from Barbara to those who have donated their time and efforts to WBH. She then presented Dennis Ojogho, a supporter who raised money for WBH by starting a Water Circle at L.A. High, with a graduation gift and congratulated him on his acceptance to Harvard! Dennis then spoke briefly about his involvement with Wells Bring Hope and credited his mother Esther, a native of Nigeria, with inspiring his passion for bringing safe water to West Africa. Finally, another volunteer was highlighted as Nancy Nagel, WBH Grant Team Director, presented the Volunteer of the Year award to Nathan Damodaran.

{Barbara Goldberg thanking Dennis Ojogho} {Dennis and his mom, Esther}
{Volunteer of the Year – Nate Damodaran}

Gil Garcetti, former L.A. County District Attorney and Vice President of WBH kicked off the next round of speakers, one of whom was WBH Director of Microfinance Hadiara Diallo. Diallo shared her experiences going from growing up in Niger, a country where women have no hopes and dreams, to witnessing an increase in hope as WBH provides safe water and microfinance programs to Nigerien women. Kareem Ahmed, Wells Bring Hope's biggest individual donor, rounded out the evening with inspiring words about his humble beginnings and how giving back has shaped who he is today.

{Gil Garcetti} {Hadiara Diallo} {Kareem Ahmed}
{Kareem Ahmed, Barbara Goldberg, and Gil Garcetti}

{Video by Daniel Yadlosky}

Visiting the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center

by Laurie Reemeyer

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center in Seattle. The center opened in February of this year, and showcases the innovative work that the foundation’s partners are doing to address difficult challenges in the developing world in health and poverty alleviation, and in the United States through education. The foundation is guided by the belief that all lives have equal value, and that every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life.

The center describes the history of the foundation, and showcases studies of programs and their impact through static and interactive displays and films. It also describes the methodology through which the foundation identifies opportunities and works to solve problems. There is a strong focus on measuring impact to ensure that funds are being invested effectively to solve significant problems.

One of the displays at the center is focused on the burden of carrying water in Africa. Visitors can feel how heavy a bucket of water is, and a series of footprints help demonstrate the lengths many women and children have to take each day for water. Wells Bring Hope is raising awareness and funds to tackle this exact problem in Niger.

The center has a number of interactive displays where visitors can contribute ideas or evaluate their skills and preferences for working on a cause. There is also a Cause Board, where visitors are invited to share a cause that they support. I took the opportunity, as a donor and volunteer for Wells Bring Hope, to promote our organization.

If you are visiting Seattle, I highly recommend a visit to the center. It really made me think about some of the major challenges in the world and the important part we are we are all playing the solutions.

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Service is Joy

Wells Bring Hope volunteer Ida Harding, pictured above, knows a thing or two about service. She is a long-time member of our organization and has twice made the difficult journey to Niger. Ida volunteered to be the second camera person just prior to her first trip and got a “crash course” in videography. She is responsible for many frames of footage obtained on both trips. Ida’s on-going support has been invaluable and, as you can see above, her radiance and fun-loving spirit is a joy to behold. You can read about her experiences in her own words on her Water Circle page.

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A Model of Hope and Perseverance from Niger

by Kate Cusimano

Dominated by the vast expanse of the Sahara, Niger, the second poorest country in the world, is 80% desert. It is also landlocked, plagued by near-constant drought, and at the epicenter of the world water crisis. 68% of Nigeriens lack access to clean water, 87% lack adequate sanitation, fewer than 30% of adults are literate. There is not a single rowboat or scull in the entire country. Basically, it is the last place on earth that you would expect to produce a hero of Olympic rowing. Yet this week, one of the biggest stories to come out of the Games in London is that of Hamadou Dijbo Issaka, a gardener from Niamey, the capital of Niger, who is competing in the Olympics as the sole member of his nation’s rowing team.

 

Now, to be clear, Hamadou has not actually won any races in London. In fact he has finished dead last in each of the three races he completed this week. What he lacks in athletic prowess, however, he more than makes up for in heart, and that fact has won him fans around the world. Each time he crosses the finish line, visibly fatigued and slumping over his oars, it is to the crushing applause of a packed grandstand, everyone standing to cheer him on. In his first Olympic race, even the announcer joined in – shouting, “You can do it,” as Hamadou pulled across the finish line nine minutes behind the winner and close to two minutes after his closest competitor.

To call Hamadou an underdog is a gross understatement. That he made it to the Olympics at all is almost unfathomable. Four months ago, the father of two had never even been in a boat, had watched rowing only on television. Due to Niger’s lack of resources, much of his training was completed in a traditional fishing boat. When Hamadou first stepped foot in a scull during a two-week training period in Egypt, he fell overboard, a fact that would embarrass many would-be Olympians. Hamadou, however, recounts the story with a smile saying, “…it was lucky I can swim.”

Hamadou’s perseverance even when the deck was stacked against him is representative of the spirit of his countrymen, a people who are familiar with carrying on in the face of the seemingly insurmountable odds of famine, drought, locusts, and crushing poverty. Hamadou freely admits that he lacks skill and experience but insists that, “It’s all about courage.”

 

Despite his poor performance in London and his age, at 35 Hamadou is at least a decade older than most of his opponents, he is determined to keep training and to return to the Olympics despite the obstacles. Proper rowboats have been ordered and are scheduled to arrive in late August. “At the moment we don’t have any boats, but maybe…Inshallah [God willing]…we might.”

Sources:

The Daily Mail

The Guardian

Witnessing Famine Relief in Niger, West Africa

by Barbara Goldberg

{grain storage with rapidly dwindling reserves}

When we visited Niger in January 2012, we saw the beginning of the famine that was coming to wreak havoc on the Sahel, West Africa. As we drove into the village of Miyaki where we had drilled a well three years earlier, we saw mothers lined up to have their children evaluated for malnutrition and to receive food supplements that our partner, World Vision, was distributing. Wells Bring Hope is very proud of the work that we do to deliver safe water to some of the poorest people in the world; we are equally proud to be affiliated with a humanitarian organization like World Vision that is doing so much to alleviate the food crisis in West Africa.

As we saw the suffering of the women and children at the clinic, it was heart-breaking to know that the worst was yet to come. It was even more devastating to know that many in other parts of the country will receive no food supplements, will have no access to help at all. Remember, this is the second poorest country in the world, with a government equally as poor.

{a nurse preparing to treat malnourished children}

The famine is the outcome of the most severe drought Niger has suffered in many, many years, and droughts have become increasingly frequent. The rainy season started in late June and we can only hope that it will last a long time and enable crops to grow, providing food for the people.

As of mid-June, feeding centers across the country have admitted and treated 130,596 children under the age of 5 for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and close to 200,000 have received treatment for Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM). (See video link below to view children being evaluated and categorized.)

Despite the fact that, since April, each day an average of 1,000 new cases of SAM are admitted for treatment, the system is coping with the increased workload, which, overall, remains below the levels recorded during the 2010 crisis.

This is likely due to the massive treatment of MAM cases, averaging over 10,000 per week, as well as to the early response measures to contain food insecurity and malnutrition, put in place in November 2011.

Watch the video filmed, edited and narrated by Daniel Yadlosky of our experience in the village of Miyaki and see famine relief in action.

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Water for the World

by Lauren Adamson

If passed by Congress, the Water for the World Act will help bring safe water and sanitation to millions of people who suffer a lack of access to clean, safe drinking water, which in turn leads to disease, malnourishment, and often death. Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly plagued by this lack of safe water, and while Wells Bring Hope has drilled 171 wells in Niger, the WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) crisis continues in developing countries worldwide. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee took an important first step toward ending this crisis by voting unanimously in favor of Water for the World Act on June 19. If Congress as a whole passes the bill, it would initiate the process of providing 100 million people with safe water and sanitation (usually in the form of toilets or latrine).

Safe water is not a partisan issue; it is a human rights issue, which is why the Water for the World Act is one of the rare acts with bipartisan support. In addition to being being a moral imperative, providing for safe water and sanitation in the developing world is sound economic policy as well. Every $1 spent on WASH yields an $8 return in saved health costs and increased productivity. Nevertheless, the Water for the World Act needs national attention and support from the House of Representatives before it can begin to have a transformative effect on millions around the world.

As we often mention here at Wells Bring Hope, safe drinking water completely transforms the lives of the people who obtain it for the first time. In Niger and other impoverished countries, clean water especially benefits women and girls. When a well is drilled in a rural community, women and their daughters no longer face the hazardous, grueling task of walking miles for water that often makes them and their families ill, despite their efforts. A well allows girls to go to school (often for the first time) and provides their mothers with extra time to generate an income using the microloans Wells Bring Hope provides. We hope to see The Water for the World Act passed soon so that 100 million people can have the basic need for safe water met. Having access to safe, clean water is something the developed world rarely thinks about, because it is so readily available here. It is important to remember that there are still over 800 million people without access to safe drinking water.

Read more about The Water for the World Act here.

To voice your support for the act, you can go here to contact your senators and representatives.