Every year on March 22nd people mark World Water Day; a day to acknowledge the water crisis and the solutions we can achieve by working together. Organizations working to solve the global water crisis use this day to raise awareness and drive people to become actively engaged in the issue that impacts billions of people worldwide.
But what about the other 364 days a year?
Some reports estimate that as many as 1.8 billion people live without reliable water services and 4.1 billion are affected by poor sanitation. To find sustainable solutions to this crisis, the water and sanitation sector must evolve and innovate. That means reflecting on approaches that work, and making changes to those that don’t. It’s also time to focus efforts and ensure that programs are having real impact, replicating, and reaching scale.
Traditionally, we hear stories about organizations visiting remote villages across the developing world, installing a water pump, and then moving onto the next village to repeat the process. What happens when the pump breaks? There is no one to repair the system and people must walk past the broken tap and back to the polluted water source.
Unfortunately this is the reality in communities around the world. Reports estimate up to 30 percent of water projects fail within the first few years. It’s important to understand the difference between access and ongoing service. Access means that there is a tap nearby that people can use. Ongoing service means that water actually flows from that tap and that there are systems in place to carry out operations, maintenance, repair, and eventual replacement. Ongoing service delivery for both water and sanitation is a real global challenge and one that must be tackled head on.
By coming together to establish unexpected partnerships, grow local capacity, and improve monitoring of results and impact, we can find lasting solutions. We must look beyond simply installing water pumps, constructing latrines, and counting people reached and instead look toward innovative programs that put systems in place for permanent service delivery for generations to come.
We need more than one day each year to do this; we need all 365. This year, Water For People pledges to make every day World Water Day! Are you with us?