Will: “That may be, but at least I won’t be unoriginal. But I mean, if you have a problem with that, I mean, we could just step outside – we could figure it out” (Good Will Hunting).
“It’s an absolute, just white-knuckle crisis right now for three-quarters of a billion people,” Damon said. “It’s killing a child every 20 seconds, which is unfathomable that these children are dying from things like diarrhea, which you know, if you have kids, your kid gets a stomach bug, maybe they miss a day of school. But, you know, it’s hard for us in the West to even wrap our brains around this concept that a lack of access to clean water and sanitation is literally slaughtering children by the millions, just because none of them are dying here” (CNN).
The story of Matt Damon and “water” started a decade ago, starting H20 Africa. Eventually H20 Africa and WaterPartners (Gary White) merged to form Water.org (2009). Since then they have been in the micro-finance “business,” issuing 250,000 loans for water related purposes. “It’s just so huge. There’s a real opportunity to save a lot of people,” said Damon, who continues to work closely with Gary White and the other board members of this growing organization (Borgen Magazine).
“It was the recognition that there was a market there for this, and that if we just stopped looking at people as beneficiaries, if we look at them as customers, then we can really unleash their power to solve their own problems,” Damon said (CNN).
Some 36% of the world’s population, 2.5 billion people, lacks improved sanitation facilities, and 768 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources, according to the World Health Organization.
According to UNICEF, diarrhea is the second largest cause of death in children under 5 globally and responsible for 600,000 children’s deaths each year. It’s also associated with a higher risk of stunting (low weight for age and developmental delay).
Many other diseases, such as malaria and other parasitic diseases, could be prevented with an adequate water supply, sanitation facilities and proper hygiene, according to the World Health Organization.
About Water.org: The water and sanitation problem in the developing world is far too big for charity alone. We are driving the water sector for new solutions, new financing models, greater transparency, and real partnerships to create lasting change. Our vision: Safe water and the dignity of a toilet for all, in our lifetime (Water.org).