Reflecting on the past: Fighting for the future
A map covered in flags representing water points does not tell you much about impact. It can often be the organizational equivalent to the social media influencer with 5,000 followers and 1.5 actual friends. At Water4, we realized that if we were going to see the impact we desired, we’d need to put down stakes and go deep where we were. Our passion for business and sustainability requires discipline, because serving through business means having a bottom line. And while going to new places may seem exciting, it’s not efficient. Ending the water crisis in places where we already work uses our resources wisely and ensures we will have an impact that lasts for generations. Staying the course is the real special sauce.
We believe that sustainable, safe water services can be provided at a district level for rural communities. This hasn’t been done before to this scale in Africa. We’re striving to prove it can be done affordably, equitably, and sustainably for the world to see. In 2020, we’re set to achieve this target in rural Ghana and rural Zambia and are making big progress in Sierra Leone. These model districts will provide us with the data-driven articulation of costs and benefits across various rural contexts. In turn, the evidence will open the door to new partnerships that let us implement faster. We need help getting there, but we believe “if we build it, they will come!”
Last year, Water4 rolled out a cohort process of its discipleship program, Multiply. This approach paired volunteers with vocation-based international counterparts (calling all nurses, teachers, pastors, business leaders, sales managers, accountants, you name it!) in a long term, cohort-based learning and training approach. We’re not aiming to build your next profile picture compilation, but we do believe we’re building a solid approach to short-term missions that involves strategic partnership, using vocational skills with cross-cultural peers, and deep discipleship. The result is transformation. We have a model, but we need pioneers to pump it out!
We want everyone to have safe water at home, including those who have safe water through handpumps but have to put it into dirty containers for storage. Last year, we built and rolled out a handpump chlorinator design to ensure even the most remote villages have guaranteed safe water by dosing handpump water with our NuPump chlorinator systems. Dirty container or not, water stays safe to drink. We also wanted those handpumps to work forever, so we rolled out handpump iNsurance, monthly contracts with communities that guarantee functionality and quality for a few dollars a month. We also invested in data-based platforms to track sales, pipelines, and maintenance for our NUMA piped water networks. At Water4, if we see a gap, we build a bridge – whether it be through mechanics, technology, or new methods to address new challenges.
When a crisis is global, you have to think about solutions at scale. You also have to accept that for the individual, if you don’t have safe water everywhere, you don’t have it anywhere. It only takes one drink to start a chain of events that could take your life in a matter of days. In a pioneering way, Water4 took on the challenge to prove what an eradicated water crisis would look like at a district scale. We did this by taking the small resources we had and compounding them with those of World Vision, the Dutch government, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to make total access to safe water a reality for the entire district of Wassa East in Ghana.
When you think “that sweet life,” you might think deserted island… but you probably weren’t thinking rural Zambia! Mbabala Island used to be known for cholera outbreaks; now it’s known for NUMA safe water. Last year, we were able to install 150 NUMA taps providing safe water access for all 10,000 people, and making water available at every school and clinic!
Sometimes the best place to see God’s work is when we are between an Egyptian army and the Red Sea. In 2020, we are crossing into unknown territory and attempting to grow our impact by 30 percent thanks to a new commitment of $1 million made available through a donor match. We have the model, the people, and the places. Now we just need to fill the jar. We don’t want to play it small with straw and bricks but rather desire to go with God on an adventure into greater impact and scale this year. As the widow did in the story with the prophet Elisha in 2 Kings 4, we’re putting out as many jars as we can find and praying for God to give the increase this year.
We walk so they don’t have to. No one should be walking for water in 2020, but as long as the vulnerable walk, we will too. We’re so excited to have you join us this year at the new Scissortail Park in downtown OKC on September 19, 2020. Here, you’ll be able to join in on something that’s a daily experience for the millions of people forced to walk miles each day to collect dirty water. You can make a real difference by joining Walk4Water and supporting loud shouts of solidarity with those we serve!