During this holiday season, millions of donated dollars have flowed to villages and urban slums in Africa, South Asia, and Central America to help improve access to clean, safe drinking water, USA Today reports.
Indeed, dozens of water-focused charities have effectively promoted the message that water is critical to health and social and economic development for hundreds of millions of people in developing countries, even as they compete for attention with international organizations working to help those suffering from hunger, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and displacement as a result of conflict or natural disasters. To that end, water organizations promise that even relatively small gifts — a $10 water bottle through Water.org or a $25 bag of cement through Blood:Water Mission, for example — can transform lives.
And while the appeal of celebrities like actor Matt Damon, who co-founded Water.org, is a plus for some organizations, most U.S.-based water charities emphasize their Christian beliefs as the inspiration for their mission. According to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which accredits some sixteen hundred church-related organizations, giving to water causes through its members jumped 36 percent between 2009 and 2010.
"Access to water will be one of the most critical challenges of our time," Damon told USA Today. "There are lots of ways to tackle it, but for me, ensuring that every human being has access to safe drinking water and the dignity of a toilet...is one of the most urgent and pressing causes in the world today."