Without it, crops would shrivel, disease would spread and everything would die. For people in many parts of the world, that scenario is closer to reality than many realize.
The Water4 Foundation, an Oklahoma City-based charity organization, is trying to change that.
“Every 22 seconds, a child in the world dies because of unsanitary water,” said Richard Greenly, Water4 co-founder. “About a billion people don’t have access to clean water.”
While it can be easy for the globe’s more prosperous people to ignore the crisis in poor nations, Greenly stressed that remedies are possible.
“We teach people how to drill water as a business,” he said. “The only way to fix this problem is to put the solution in the hands of locals.”
Water4 has developed a drilling method that is effective, efficient and inexpensive.
“Normally you’d have to bring in million-dollar rigs and drill expensive wells,” Greenly said. “Lots of places can’t afford that. We created a drilling system that can dig up to 50 wells and costs about $7,500. That’s a tenth of what it would normally cost.”
The organization currently is working on the largest humanitarian, well-drilling project ever attempted. The goal is to build approximately 7,000 wells in eight African countries.
Greenly estimates that in 10 years, the water problem in Africa will be solved.
The Water4 project promises not only clean drinking water for people in developing countries, but jobs, as well.
“Eighty percent of the people in these countries are unemployed,” said Greenly. “Those who can find work are only making one or two dollars a day. Once they learn how to dig their own wells, they can make $200 to $300 in profit a week. Plus, clean water also lets farmers irrigate crops properly so the people can feed themselves. It really is a great snowball effect.”
To increase awareness of the crisis and raise funds, Water4 is hosting a photo contest through the end of this month on various social-media outlets. People are encouraged to post pictures that show what water means to them. For more information, visit water4.org.
An organization supporter has agreed to donate $5 for every photo posted and match every $5 donation. Gospel music star Sandi Patty, a Water4 ambassador, will help judge the contest.
The top three winners will have a well dug and a pump installed in their name, and receive four handcrafted fair-trade bracelets.