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Rainwater, collected from the roofs of homes and buildings, then stored in adjacent cisterns or large UV protected plastic tanks.
Construction of new borehole wells and pumps, for communities in need.
The repair of pre-existing wells and pumps. Tens of thousands of “dead” wells are sitting in communities, all over the world. Often due to a lack of basic maintenance and/or wear and tear, wells can usually be restored for under $500.
Long-term, strategic, development
Since the beginning, we have always tried to challenge existing models and innovate within our space. Whether it’s in the field or in the boardroom, we have asked ourselves, “How can we become more efficient? More sustainable? More impactful?”. Now, as we we look back on our time as an organization we see how we’ve been able to answer some of those questions.
From the get go, it became very clear that we didn’t want to just distribute supplies into an area of need. If our goal is to provide access to clean water, then it’s our job to make sure that every base is covered within that. Essentially, taking the contrary approach to just dropping solutions off somewhere, with no strategy or training, and hoping for the best. This means, not only providing a technological solution, but all the logistics it takes to get it there, the proper education to use it, and adequate follow up routines to ensure the success and longevity of it, thereafter. This process is the defining difference between implementing a program with a long-term vision in mind, or just aimlessly distributing supplies and calling it “aid work.”
Our program consists of three major solutions: rainwater harvesting systems, the construction/restoration of bore-hole wells, and portable water filtration systems. For example, when we embark on a new (non-disaster related) development project, our first step is to do a needs assessment of the target area. Then, based on our findings and whatever budget we have committed, we will design the appropriate program for that area. In many cases, it’s a combination program, with either rain-catchment systems or wells to provide a new source of water, then portable water filtration systems for each household – to ensure the water is safe to drink.
Because we understand that the first few weeks following natural disasters are crucial in curbing the spread of waterborne diseases and life threatening dehydration, we typically launch our response in three phases:
Phase one is designed to mitigate the immediate suffering of the most impacted families, by implementing portable water filtration systems in communities (both to shelters and residences still left standing) living at, or below, the poverty line. In many cases these are communities that already needed our program prior to any disaster, making them the least equipped to handle any catastrophe. We have seen this scenario many times, in a range of countries. It is the “forgotten” underserved communities that feel the worst of what these events have to offer.
Phase two, after the immediate need for clean water has been addressed, we focus on the breakdowns in water infrastructure through the creation of large and centrally-located community water stations, or “depots”. These are big systems that can serve entire communities, rather than just one household.
Phase three analyzes data that has been compiled throughout the first two phases, allowing us to design and implement long-term mechanisms to change the way water is accessed for years to come – such as rainwater harvesting systems, borehole wells, and/or desalinization systems.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Waves For Water does not participate in one-time distributions. We are focused on long-term, sustainable programs with measurable impact. To ensure this, monitoring and evaluation is one of the most important aspects of what we do.
We have developed a robust monitoring and evaluation program centered on collecting information on customized digital surveys. At baseline, we determine the water situation for the community to determine the best possible solution. Following implementation, our M+E team returns at multiple time points to meet with our community champions and conduct household surveys. We go house to house and visit the families that were recipients of our program - reinforcing, reteaching, troubleshooting, and collecting data. The data we collect focuses on utilization of our program’s solutions as well as the downstream impacts including health, finances, school and work attendance. All of the information we get from this process, whether on the level of country, state, community, or individual, goes back into reinforcing or improving our approach.
The monitoring and evaluation process is not only about collecting data on how well our program is working. More importantly, it allows for one-on-one teaching opportunities that are crucial for reaching the potential impact of each and every clean water solution we implement.
The Ripple Effect
Access to clean water is a game-changer. The overall health benefits are obvious, but the ripple effect that happens when clean water is introduced into a community is profound, and often overlooked. Sure, the risk of waterborne illnesses such as, Cholera, Salmonella, Giardia, E. Coli, and Typhoid, is mitigated–but it also positively affects many other aspects of life.
Less money spent on medicine and clinic visits, plus less time staying home being sick, less time collecting water or the wood to boil that water, means a significant change to the socioeconomics of a community. Less sick days for children means a higher attendance in school, changing the outcome of their overall education. The list goes on: infant care, feminine hygiene, women empowerment. All of these reasons are a driving force for us, but it is the fundamental belief that everyone deserves access to clean water, as a basic human right, that drives us everyday.