WATERisLIFE was founded by Ken Surritte, who came up with the idea while he was standing in the shower in Nairobi. He had just returned from a visit to a remote village in the desert region of northern Kenya. The people lived in huts made from sticks and trash that had been left on the road. The people were warm and welcoming to Ken and his companions. He recalls a conversation with a woman about the name of her one-year-old son. She told Ken that the child didn’t have a name because he probably wouldn’t live to the age of two. Globally, one in five children dies before the age of five, most from waterborne disease.
When Ken returned to Nairobi, he was taking his first hot shower in weeks, and as he was watching the water circle the drain, he realized, “Water IS life here. The people I have been working with would give anything to have the water I was letting go down the drain as I warmed up the shower.”
Ken returned to Oklahoma, quit his job, and founded WATERisLIFE.
Every year, over 1 billion people are harmed by waterborne illnesses. With the use of cutting-edge technology, WATERisLIFE is on a mission to bring safe drinking water to 1 billion people by December 31, 2021. WATERisLIFE employs the WASH system created by UNICEF.
WASH stands for a set of three initiatives:
- Water: Helping communities source accessible and safe drinking water.
- Sanitation: Working with human waste processes and basic access to proper toilets. Sanitation ensures an end to “open defecation” and harmful contact between people and waste.
- Hygiene: In order to prevent the spread of disease, hygiene teaches basic but necessary self-care education like hand washing.
To solve the water crisis, a community must have all three. WATERisLIFE uses WASH as a foundation for each of their projects.
They developed a simple straw filter for kids and have distributed nearly 1 million of them globally. They provide water, sanitation, and hygiene training in schools and villages and provide millions of liters of water each day around the world. They have created cutting-edge technology like solar and wind-powered water treatment plants, as well as a simple home water filtration system. Currently, they are working on technology that will generate water from the air. WATERisLIFE also drills wells and excavates land to create more water in areas where water is scarce.
WATERisLIFE is in over 47 countries, including the United States and Puerto Rico. They have supplied over 5.5 billion liters of clean, safe water around the world.
To learn more about WATERisLIFE or to get involved, visit their website.
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About Laura Gamble
Laura is President of Redbud Advisory Group, a consulting company that she founded in 2016. Redbud, whose tagline is, “First I listen”, provides a myriad of consulting and professional development services to non-profit and small business leaders. She is a certified life coach and holds certifications in non-profit management and DISC Behavioral Analysis.