Welcome to Global Water

Since 1982 Global Water has been dedicated to creating safe water supplies, sanitation facilities and hygiene-related facilities for rural villagers in developing countries. It would be very interesting to go back to the earliest projects and see how the lives of next generations have been changed by access to clean, safe water.  How many more have survived early childhood because they did not get diarrheal diseases?  How many children got educations because they were not needed to carry water for the family?  How many girls completed basic education because they were able to safely manage the onset of menses as a student?

Beyond those basic questions, it would be fascinating to know how the villages used their water sources to enhance agricultural and industrial development.  Has the water kept up with growing population demands?  How has water changed the way they live over time?  Has it helped to connect them with other communities and larger government concerns?  Has it facilitated greater isolation?  Did it do what the people in those villages hoped it would do?

Global Water has been on the forefront of considering those questions.  Our water projects have always been done in conversation with the local people who will benefit by the water systems.  Management practices, including qualified local repair technicians, have been a part of every project.  Villagers have always participated in the planning and installation.  Global Water has always been at the leading edge of best practices like installing latrines and hand washing stations with every clean water system.  We know that it’s easier to raise money for a well than a toilet, but the water won’t stay clean unless it is separated from waste.

One of the concerns that have weighed my mind since I inherited the Executive Director position is how to make Global Water unique.  Ted Kuepper’s retirement as Executive Director is a loss to Global Water, because he is such a fine engineer.  The Technology-Push program will continue without him as a field testing opportunity for potentially useful new engineering being done at universities and perhaps corporations.  I do have a good understanding of systems theory and conflict resolution.  After some conversations with other experts in the field I have decided to incorporate those skills into the field.  Global Water will continue to install water systems, but it will also act as an interface with other water related development organizations to do larger systems planning and conflict resolution work in order to enhance the enabling environment for long term sustainability of their water work.

To briefly explain systems theory, are you familiar with the starfish story?  A man sees a boy throwing starfish from the beach back into the water.  He asks the boy what difference it makes when there are so many on the shore.  As the boys tosses another one in he tells the man, “It makes a difference to that one.”  Apologies to its author, Loren Eiseley, but wouldn’t it make more sense to find out what washed the starfish on the beach in the first place?  Then it might be possible to prevent all the future starfish wash-ups.

Systems planning will include working with local and national governments to consider water table projections, agricultural and industrial needs, planned economies, electricity generation, education, and general aspirations at both local and national levels.  It may involve strengthening governance capacity.  The Water for the Poor Act prioritized water for personal use as opposed to agricultural or industrial work, correcting inverse interests of the past.  We will still keep drinking water as a priority, but we will also allow for people to plan for feeding themselves and their families.

Conflict is often a huge destabilizer of progress, especially in development work.  Not only are the aid workers at risk, the project can be destroyed by militants at any time, making all the risk, and money invested pointless.  We can take on the conflict directly using conflict resolution practices, or indirectly using broad spectrum community or national stabilization techniques.

In both systems planning and conflict resolution/stabilization we also have a wide array of potential partners capable of working at any scale.  We anticipate that we will significantly enhance the grant applications of larger water development non-profits, and may directly contract ourselves if opportunities arise.

Global Water will also continue to fund many facility construction projects at rural schools with the help of Peace Corps Volunteers who often identify water/sanitation/hygiene problems at schools they’re working with. Whenever possible, we strive to collaborate with Peace Corps Volunteers since they make wonderful partners to work with and are great at helping to create community involvement and day to day supervision.

We still believe the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities are the root causes of hunger, disease and poverty throughout the developing world. Our goal is to positively impact that situation to the greatest degree possible.

Please communicate with us.  Obviously we need your continued financial support, but we will also need your introductions, and your links to other interested organizations.  Help us find work.  We get continual requests for help, more than we can afford to fund.  The more money we raise, the more paid work we do, the more we can respond to the very poor.  We will still pour every dollar we can into getting water to as many people as possible.

Thank you for partnering with us,

Karen Dickman

Executive Director