We may talk a lot about what you should be drinking — new wines, new beers, new cocktail ingredients — but it's just as important to know that we're some of the lucky ones when it comes to drinking. In honor of World Water Day, it's a time to reflect on the latest numbers of the world water crisis, and figure out what we can do to support clean water efforts across the globe. Because it's no joke that more than one in six people worldwide (or 894 million) don't have access to "improved," or clean, water sources.
Fortunately, charities across the world are working to make safe, clean drinking water available for everyone. Here's a list of a few of those organizations who we think you should support, and how they're changing the water landscape one cup at a time.
Water.org makes a lot of headlines, especially when it has Matt Damon as its face, auctioning off toilet seats and speaking out on talk shows. But it’s more than a pretty actor-led campaign — Water.org not only works with local partners to build wells and projects, but also leads with Water Credits, a microfinance program.
Arguably the most prominent clean water charity out there, charity: water works with community partners to provide clean water in places it's needed. As of now, the charity has provided suppport for more than 8,000 water projects in 20 developing countries. Said founder Scott Harrison to Fast Company at the end of last year, "My favorite kind of generosity is 'surprising.' The kind that can bring two people to tears because it comes at such a cost, and it’s so meaningful."
Walking for Water
An international organization that takes the meaning of the global water crisis and translates it into an easy-to-understand message: imagine walking 6 kilometers (or a little more than 3 1/2 miles) with water strapped to your back. By organizing events for children to carry backpacks of water for the same distance — about how far children in developing countries travel for access to clean water — Walking for Water demonstrates the tangible effects of access to clean water. This year, more than 6,000 children in 23 countries will be walking the walk, and getting involved in other water projects to help.
UNICEF Tap Project
This year, UNICEF is making it as easy as logging on to Facebook to support clean water. They've paired up with Tap Project in New York City, and all you need to do is donate $5 via PayPal on the Facebook app, which turns your "social" network into a network of pipelines to encourage your friends to donate as well. A simple $5 with a message — we can sacrifice a Starbucks coffee for that.
While the band members from Jars of Clay may make you think it's another celebrity stunted charity, its mission goes far beyond the scope of Hollywood. The charity links together projects to fight the growing AIDS and water crises, inextricably linked, with water projects and access to health care. Since its inception in 2005, the charity has provided health care and access to clean water for more than 800,000 people in 11 African countries. Also noteable is the company's iWash projects, which provide education on sanitation and hygiene to combat water-related health problems.
Water is Life
It's the charity that gave us the straw — not just any straw, but small, portable filtration device that has changed the game for those without access to clean water. By filtering water, the straw has helped fight against waterborne diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery, guinea worm, and diarrhea. But Water is Life also takes on the bigger picture of the global water crisis and how to develop a larger global strategy. Still, donating $10 straws to communities in need may be one of the easiest ways to support global efforts for clean water.
Elephant pumps and elephant toilets don't immediately conjure images of clean water, but the hand pumps and toilets that Pumpaid builds are low-cost, efficient ways to bring clean water and sanitation to developing communities. So far, Pump Aid has built more than 7,6000 elephant pumps to serve more than 1 million people in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Liberia.
Wine to Water
You had us at wine — but booze aside, Water to Wine is the vision of Raleigh, N.C., former bartender Doc Hendley, who volunteered in war-torn parts of Africa to install water sanitation projects. Now, the charity partners with other global organizations to install wells from South Africa to Peru. Besides normal donations, Wine to Water gets the beverage community involved on a larger scale, with a new campaign to donate "just one shift" and its tips for clean water efforts. Plus, regular people can buy from the Wine to Water collection of wines, where $7 of the $14 cost goes to relief efforts.