Healing Waters International: Aligning the Fight against Hunger and the Fight against Thirst
May 20, 2016
Libbie Olsen, Grants & Content Manager, Healing Waters International
Founded in 2002, Healing Waters International (HWI) is committed to ending the global water crisis by providing at-risk communities around the world with clean water and health & hygiene education. Based in Golden, Colorado HWI has distributed over 235 million gallons of clean water around the globe over the past 14 years.
Currently, HWI works in 15 countries across Central and South America, Africa, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. To implement our Holistic Transformation Model (HTM), we work with strategic partners, including Compassion International and Food for the Hungry, as well as local communities.
One of the main components of HWI’s HTM is our unique water purification technology. HWI’s systems are:
- Uniquely designed to meet the water needs of each community we serve
- Remove 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, and parasites regardless of source water quality and operator error.
- Made out of quality components, many of which can be locally sourced, to ensure sustainability
- Utilize gravity and solar power, so that we can reach the most marginalized and remote communities where electricity is not readily available
Over 80% of the community systems installed by HWI over the past 14 years are still active today.
However, we know that clean water alone is not enough to transform a community and provide lasting change. That is why HWI has created a model that cares for a community holistically. In order for our systems to be sustainable, local communities contribute towards the cost of the system and a local leadership team is trained in safe water systems operations and maintenance.
HWI practices asset-based development and invests in local leaders by training them in business and administration skills, and safe water systems operations and maintenance. This means the system is both owned and operated by the community, and is run as a sustainable water store with a comprehensive business plan. Once a water store is established, the water is then sold to the community at a fraction of the market price so that we are not creating dependency, but the water is still accessible to all.
Local leaders are also trained to teach health & hygiene classes to increase the health impacts of having access to clean water. These classes are specifically geared towards young women and children- two of the populations most adversely affected by water-borne illnesses.
Freed from the burden of unsafe water, our vision is that people don’t just survive, they thrive: full of hope and the freedom to learn, love, work and pursue their dreams. That is why HWI is thrilled to be joining the other members of the Alliance to End Hunger, because we know the fight against hunger and the fight against thirst are deeply intertwined and without food and clean water, communities are unable to thrive.
In order to reach the most people and maximize our ability to serve, we believe collaboration is key. As a new member, we are excited to begin widening the scope of the Alliance to include the WASH sector and start a wider conversation on what it looks like to address global hunger and thirst.