Every day, an estimated 25,000 people in developing countries die of water-related diseases and roughly 15,000 children under the age of five die of dehydration. Water-related disease accounts for 80 percent of all sickness in the world and claims approximately 10 million lives annually.
WaterPartners began in 1990 with the first Water for Life dinner in Kansas City, Missouri. The funds raised at that dinner supported the organization's first project in El Limon, Honduras. A decade after the project was completed, water is still flowing. Sustainability is at the core of WaterPartners' work, and the organization continues to see a 100 percent project success rate after ten years of applying its unique solutions to the global water crisis. Over those ten years, WaterPartners has supported water projects in 44 communities, benefiting more than 20,000 people.
WaterPartners, which works through local partner organizations in developing countries and has funded projects in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, seeks out and supports organizations that have proven their ability to facilitate quality projects at the community level. After funding the projects, WaterPatners stays involved with site visits and progress reports to insure the long-term sustainability of the project.
WaterPartners also serves as a link between beneficiaries and donors, and holds itself accountable to both. The organization keeps its donors informed about the projects in which they have invested and works hard to raise awareness about the plight of people without safe and adequate water supplies.
The WaterPartners Web site (www.water.org) provides updates on the progress of water projects the organization has funded. The site also offers information about the organization's unique approach, current and past copies of Agua Dulce (the WaterPartners newsletter), and details about Water for Life events around the country.
Greg and Vickie Iverson of Highlands, Utah, recently established the Gregory and Vickie Iverson Charitable Supporting Organization and named WaterPartners International as its primary beneficiary, creating an endowment for the organization with a gift of stock estimated to be worth $3.5 million. Greg Iverson, the president of LinkNet Latina, says he and his wife established the foundation because he was "pained at the plight of the masses that don't have safe water."
Iverson first learned about the global water crisis as an LDS missionary in Latin America from 1978 to 1980. One of his most vivid memories was the water-gathering routines of the Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands, off the northern coast of Panama, who load canoes with bowling ball-sized gourds and paddle four to five hours each day just to get water. While living and working in Latin America, Iverson saw many people — usually women — carrying heavy buckets over great distances, just to get dirty water from a ditch. "I kept thinking all these years that if I could do anything, it would be to give the people in developing countries water," said Iverson. "Once you have water, it's a start; it's a way to get your life back."
The Iversons' gift represents the largest commitment of funds to WaterPartners in its ten-year history. WaterPartners executive director Gary White says, "The Iversons' endowment is pivotal in helping us build on our strong grassroots support because it will allow us to scale up our efforts to reach many more people in need of safe water."
WaterPartners has identified several communities that need support to start their water projects. Generally, as little as $50 can provide safe drinking water for one child through adulthood. To donate online, visit: http://www.water.org/howhelp/donate_online.htm.