2020 opened with the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic—introducing even more urgent needs for safe water and fresh challenges to providing that access. Yet with your support and prayers, Water Mission was able to serve more people in this difficult year than ever before.
Together, we delivered safe water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions to over 1.6 million people around the world. While we quickly developed new protocols and specific solutions to meet COVID-related needs, we also accelerated our ongoing work in rural communities, crowded refugee settings, and in response to natural disasters. Our 400 staff members, based at our U.S. headquarters and in nine permanent country programs, worked tirelessly to deliver access to safe water throughout East Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
While 2.2 billion people still lack access to clean, safe water, you are helping us change that number. Since our founding in 2001, we have served nearly 7 million people across 57 countries.
The global water crisis came into sharp focus this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic further illustrated the desperate need for specific hygiene behaviors that rely on access to safe water and appropriate sanitation.
With God’s blessings, your support, and the commitments of corporate and government partners, 2020 was a year of growth and innovation for Water Mission. Here’s a snapshot of what we accomplished together:
Responding to a Double Disaster in Honduras
Hurricanes Eta and Iota swept through Honduras and Central America in November 2020, leaving similar paths of destruction just three weeks apart. In Honduras, these storms affected more than 3 million people and displaced nearly 180,000 from their homes. Agricultural communities were hit the hardest, with homes submerged and crops ruined.
Water Mission responded swiftly, trucking in safe water from our country office in Tocoa to emergency shelters and impacted communities. Our immediate response included distributing water purification packets, donated by P&G, and hundreds of hygiene kits with critical supplies such as face masks, sanitizer, and toilet paper. Water Mission staff quickly repaired any safe water systems that were damaged by the storm, building in enhanced protections from future storms and flooding. As part of our long-term commitment to these communities, we have installed 24 brand-new safe water solutions to-date.
Leveraging Solar Power to Build Back Better in the Bahamas
Water Mission has been working in the Bahamas throughout 2020, designing long-term solutions for communities devastated by the Category 5 Hurricane Dorian last fall. In Marsh Harbour, we have been utilizing solar technology to help power municipal water systems. With grants from UNICEF and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and the coordination of local authorities, we are integrating a large field of solar panels with the community power grid. This work will increase operational water production pump efficiency by up to 33% at each of Marsh Harbour’s 25 wells. Solar technology is a reliable and efficient way to help run local water systems. This approach demonstrates how Water Mission seeks to “build back better” after disasters with solutions engineered to be more resilient in the face of future storms.
Delivering Safe Water and Hygiene in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic
As COVID-19 began making its way around the world, our global staff quickly pivoted to provide hand washing stations, sanitation supplies, and hygiene education in every region where Water Mission serves. To date, more than 750,000 people have been given access to supplies such as safe water and soap. We have also installed over 8,300 hand washing stations in healthcare facilities, schools, refugee settings, government buildings, and existing safe water collection points.
In Tanzania, for example, we worked with the government to provide 300 new hand washing stations in hospitals and health centers and 100 stations at local prisons. With funding from the Azimuth World Foundation, we delivered 30 hand washing stations to 15 primary schools. We also partnered with UNICEF to install safe water systems in five hospitals—an especially dire need to protect both healthcare workers and patients.
Our Indonesia team designed new hand washing stations that are wheelchair accessible, to ensure everyone in the community had equal access. And in Northern Sumatra, a church partner leveraged our hygiene education resources to host a COVID-19 awareness training.
Under the leadership of our community development team, we designed these awareness materials to outline proper hand washing and other hygiene initiatives that can help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The materials are available to all of our country programs, written in local languages and featuring graphics that are easily understood.
Your faithful prayers and gifts, along with the generous support of partners like The Poul Due Jensen Foundation have made this work possible.
Reaching Rural Communities with Safe Water
While we responded to headline-making global events, we also continued to provide long-term safe water solutions to communities around the world—often in rural, hard-to-reach places.
We work closely with local leaders to develop custom designs and business plans, and celebrate each time a project is officially commissioned to the community. In Sampuran, a remote Indonesian island, we had the chance to celebrate in early 2020 alongside members of the Mt. Carmel Bible Presbyterian Church from Singapore. The congregation helped to fund the safe water project for the 700 community members, and they personally visited the village for the commissioning. With access to safe water, local families are saved the often-lengthy trip to collect dirty water. Now, they have more time for work and school, and are no longer vulnerable to waterborne illnesses. That’s something to celebrate!
Accelerating Our Impact, Together
We can’t end the global water crisis alone, but we can fight it together. Water Mission has continued collaborating with like-minded organizations around the world to accelerate our collective impact— sharing strategies and insights in personal conversations and global forums such as the World Water Week conference.
And although our international Walk for Water events had to be re-imagined for coronavirus safety, that didn’t stop friends like you from raising money and awareness for Water Mission. This year, we had 15 virtual Regional Walks with more than 2,800 participants in 35 countries, raising $550,000 to support our work.
Your prayers and generosity have made a difference every day, enabling us to serve people in often-forgotten communities like Sampuran, communities devastated by a natural disaster, and refugees fleeing violence.
Your commitment to fighting the global water crisis provides hope and opportunity along with access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions. We are so grateful for your partnership in 2020!