How We Help
Food For The Poor provides clean water sources and hygienic sanitation for communities in need.
- In the last decade, we have completed 2,703 water projects that provide clean water and sanitation to hundreds of thousands of people in need
- With the help of Water Mission, in the first six months of 2020 we installed one water filtration unit for a total of 192 water filtration units since 2008.
If the only water you could get was from a dirty, polluted stream, and your child was crying from thirst, what would you do?
Water is life because it makes it possible for communities and economies to advance and flourish.
But not just any water. Societies need treated and accessible water.
Today, 1 in 4 people – 2 billion people – worldwide lack safe (potable) drinking water.
What is non-potable water? Non-potable water is untreated water that does not meet global water quality standards, in terms of bacterial, parasite, and viral contamination, leading to potential sickness. Access to potable water is most heavily limited by poverty and geography.
Let’s look at the top three ways some countries in the Caribbean and Latin America suffer because they do not have access to treated water.
1. Limited or no access to water. In developing countries, most rural communities don’t have wells or municipal water systems and must get their water from hand-dug wells, shallow creeks or spend what little money they have on water without knowing whether it’s clean. Lack of treated water exposes children and families to illnesses and infections. Some communities might have a potable water truck that visits their neighborhood once a week, but it’s priced out of reach for most impoverished families. Potable water delivery is an acceptable source of potable water, but it’s limited in its availability and consistency, and that water could be a distance away, requiring travel to the water source and back, carrying the water.
2. Unavailable sanitation. The term WASH is used by Food For The Poor and many aid organizations when talking about water, sanitation and hygiene. For health reasons, everyone must follow WASH standards to keep children, families, and communities healthy. When there are no toilets, water sources for drinking and cooking can quickly become contaminated, causing sickness.
Three billion people do not have access to handwashing facilities with soap.
3. Inadequate hygiene. Living in extreme poverty means that families don’t have money to purchase hygiene products, including soap and feminine products. As a result, germs spread quickly to other people when households cannot wash their hands and bathe properly. Inadequate hygiene can also cause infant malnutrition or sickness due to mothers not washing their hands.
Who suffers most?
Not surprisingly, vulnerable and impoverished communities are among the first to suffer for decades and generations from a lack of treated water.
More than 255,000 children under age 5 die every year from the effects of diarrhea after being exposed to contaminated water, sanitation and poor hygiene.
Over 700 children are dying every day from fully avoidable deaths.
Not having enough treated water or drinking germ-filled water is at the core of many illnesses, including cholera, and is one of the leading reasons for early infant deaths.
Cholera outbreaks can happen by drinking water from a contaminated source. After the 2010’s Haiti cholera outbreak, the Ministry of Public Health and Population reported that 120 children under the age of 5 died from the disease, which causes diarrhea.
Women and girls who survive sickness from contaminated water are taxed with the burden of a lifetime of fetching water, missing out on an education.
Men are often out working and if there is money to send a child to school, the boy in a family will attend.
Women and girls are left behind in the home and expected to trek hours a day back and forth to questionable water sources, gathering heavy buckets of water.
Women have no time to earn money, and girls cannot attend school – the females remain trapped in extreme poverty because they fetch water.
It’s not a safe walk to reach most water sources. Girls are vulnerable, carrying water containers on their heads and are at risk of physical violence on the well-worn paths they walk.
Choupette from Haiti had been making a treacherous hike to the only water source in her community every day since she was an infant strapped to her mother’s back. But when she was just 5 years old, the heavy responsibility of bringing water for her family was placed on Choupette alone. Her mother took care of the younger children in the family and Choupette’s father had to leave to find work each day.
Throughout developing countries, children like Choupette spend as much as two hours a day walking to a water source. In Choupette’s case, the source was a tiny stream contaminated by animal waste, parasites and harmful bacteria. Because there was so little water, there were times when Choupette would return home with empty containers because others had crowded her out.
When a family member gets sick from waterborne contamination, it’s the women and girls who care for them. Taking care of the household isolates females and keeps them from contributing to their community and society.
What are 5 dangers of drinking contaminated water?
1. Exposure to contaminated water brings on all kinds of waterborne diseases that many families and children get used to – stomach upsets and occasional bouts of diarrhea – but some illnesses can be life-threatening.
A family in Honduras fetched their water from a nearby water source, but the water was contaminated. The young daughters said they eventually got used to feeling sick from the water. But they never got used to how it tasted – it tasted as bad as it smelled.
Imagine having to choke down water that smelled and tasted awful and made you sick on top of it?
Homes and communities without proper sanitation and hygiene facilities perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
2. Lack of safety. Girls are kept out of school during menstruation because they have no access to treated water or sanitation at home. As a result, there is no place for them to manage their monthly cycles with dignity or safety.
3. Defecating in the open. In Jamaica, a young girl lived with her mom in the back room of a relative’s tiny shack. The shack had no sanitation, so everyone found a place far behind the hut outside to use the bathroom. Along an old, rusted fence were a series of crudely dug holes the mom and daughter used.
4. No privacy. Finding somewhere private to use the outdoors as a bathroom usually means having to wait until it’s dark outside, which leaves women and children at risk of abuse or assault. Sometimes, a village might have communal latrines, but these are germ-laden and unsafe.
5. Spreading contamination. Another reason that outdoor defecation is problematic is that the health of everyone in the community is at risk. This type of sanitation is often a cultural norm, but it contaminates drinking water sources, creeks, food and crops and can spread deadly diseases outside the community.
673 million people worldwide continue to practice open defecation.
In Haiti, roads, neighborhoods and water sources are clogged with trash. There is no municipal waste team picking up trash in most areas of Haiti.
Over 90 percent of solid waste is found in unregulated dumpsites or openly burned in impoverished communities.
And in rural areas in Latin America, you’ll find massive landfills smoking in the sun, breeding disease and releasing methane gas into the environment, trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Mountainous dumpsites and landfills serve as inexpensive options for developing countries to get rid of their solid waste.
Many of these dumps also provide jobs scavenging for recyclable materials. Even though the cost to the health of humans, the soil and the groundwater is devastating, these waste management systems thrive.
But there is hope
By providing water treatment systems, hygienic sanitation facilities and cisterns for villages in desperate need of a treated water source, you can help save lives and build healthier communities.
The gift of having treated water near households also enables girls to go to school instead of spending hours collecting water while freeing mothers to pursue income-generating activities.
Women with access to treated water at home can move beyond traditional domestic roles by working and adding to their household income.
For a young girl, access to a treated water supply and functioning bathroom facilities marks the difference between having to drop out of school or having the ability to receive an education and change her life forever.
Share the gift of water
One of the more powerful gifts God bestowed on us is the gift of water. May we protect and share this extraordinary gift every chance we have.
Delivering treated water and sanitation to those in need is possible with God’s help.
Food For The Poor uses a holistic approach in providing treated water to a community.
With partnerships through local churches in countries where we serve, communities receive education and understand the long-term benefits a treated water system delivers, and they have pride in ownership.
Lasting treated water solutions
You might be wondering how to provide treated water for developing countries.
Because of the support of donors who want to make sure we provide access to treated water, Food For The Poor pre-positions critical relief supplies in the countries where we help.
Pre-positioning helps in-country partners respond immediately when a storm or other disaster strikes.
For example, water is one of the first things people need during an emergency and the pallets of water sent to the countries contain items to help.
Typically, each country will receive a kit containing 24 boxes of P&G water purification packets from Water Mission, 14 cases of Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier, an oral rehydration solution, 540 Disaster Health Kits with hygiene items from MAP International, along with other essential aid.
In addition to the kits, FFTP supports water filtration systems for developing countries. FFTP has sent a Living Water treatment water pump to eight countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Water treatment systems for developing countries are vital as well. The water pump is from Water Mission and can treat 10,000 gallons of non-potable water a day and provide clean drinking water for 5,000 people.
Pre-positioning these supplies is essential to facilitate an immediate response to emergencies and makes the difference between life and death.
Without the intentional sacrifice of donors and our partners, none of these kits or water systems would be possible.
Your impact matters
The water crisis across the Caribbean and Latin America is challenging and urgent.
Unfortunately, the problem persists in communities where children deserve to be healthy and attend school. Adults deserve the opportunity to work and earn money for their families.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.” (Isaiah 55:1, NIV)
Thank you for joining Food For The Poor in providing access to treated water through sustainable water projects. You can change a negative water journey into a positive journey that transforms lives.