Published: November 2010
- Water-related illnesses, mostly diarrhea, cause the deaths of more than 1 million children each year in the developing world. Charities aim to provide health and other benefits via improved water sources.
- These illnesses can be transmitted in a variety of ways, and reducing them may require behavior change (not just improvements in water supply). Evidence for the effectiveness of water interventions is limited and shows mixed conclusions.
- We have aimed to find a charity sharing information on key issues such as the extent of water quality improvement its projects bring about, the convenience of the new water sources it installs compared to pre-existing water sources, and whether its water sources are maintained appropriately.
- We have not yet found an organization we can confidently recommend focused on improving water sources.
How do charities help?
There are a wide variety of approaches to improving water sources. Some charities focus on creating or improving public water points, while others aim to bring water into the home via tap connections. In addition to reducing the effort necessary to collect water, these programs aim to improve health, particularly by reducing diarrhea incidence.
What are the challenges of finding a great charity?
We feel that the success of a water project depends heavily on the following:
- How significant is the improvement in (a) water quality, and (b) convenience?
- Are improvements to water infrastructure maintained over time?
In 2011, we identified 43 water charities and visited their websites to determine whether they published information online to answer the above question. By and large, we found limited information that answered our questions. We ultimately contacted six organizations and our reviews of 4 of them are still pending. Details available on our process for finding water charities page
As of November 2011, we do not have a water charity that we can confidently recommend to donors.