By Jan Byrnes, Vice President, Grand Circle Foundation
In 2015, we launched our WASH Initiative (Water and Sanitation, Hygiene) to bring clean water and toilets that meet or exceed the local standard to all schools and villages supported by Grand Circle Foundation. At that time, only 14% of schools and villages rated water and sanitation as “Excellent”; 45% had clean water; and 65% had toilets that 25+ people shared. Water scarcity, poor water quality, and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices, and educational opportunities for poor families across the world.
Lack of access to water and sanitation have negative impacts on all areas of a person's life, from illness (and possible death) due to preventable waterborne diseases, to time lost to fetching water, and much more. Although these impacts are felt by all, women and girls are disproportionately affected.
Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 80 percent of households without access to water on premises, and often have to trek miles to a water source that may also be shared with livestock and, particularly in Africa, wild animals.
Open defecation directly impacts women more than men, as they are vulnerable and subject to sexual attack while in the fields and bush. And lack of toilet facilities at schools leads to missed school days for girls who are menstruating and have no private place to take care of personal hygiene needs.
Our 2018 investment
In 2018, 45% of all grants made by Grand Circle Foundation were used to support 30 WASH projects for a total investment of $426,154.
Boreholes, community toilets, school toilets, water filters, hand washing stations, and piping water to villages and schools were some of the ways we helped bring access to clean water and toilets to people in 13 countries. Many of the projects were managed by our regional associates who work with school and community leaders to identify a need and ensure the project is completed as a partnership between Grand Circle Foundation and the community. Regional associates also volunteered their time as part of community service events to build community toilets in small villages, and worked side by side with the villagers on manual labor on larger projects.
But we realized that to have even greater impact, we would require a different level of management to help us bring clean water to more people. In 2018, we formed three new partnerships with international organizations to help us achieve our goals.
We funded $105,525 to Wine to Water to support a filter build of 1,000 Sawyer filters that will be delivered around the world; and to help bring clean water to indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon. The Solar Village Project ($23,600) brought a solar powered water pump to a village of 500 of the lowest caste in India, in additional to solar lanterns for every home. And CONAPAC—the Civil Association for Conservation of the Peruvian Amazon Environment—($19,500) helped us bring clean water to two indigenous tribes in the Amazon region of Peru.
Our 2018 results
As we begin 2019, 95% of schools and 70% of villages that Grand Circle Foundation supports have access to clean water and toilets that meet or exceed local standards, impacting 27,318 people. Thank you to all our generous travelers and associates who helped make this work possible—we look forward to sharing more promising results in the future.
Learn more about the work of Grand Circle Foundation and donate to your choice of projects—with no administration fee—at www.grandcirclefoundation.org.