Lifewater Canada works hard to ensure you know the beneficial impact your donations are having on children and families. We hope this transparency will give you the confidence to continue providing safe, accessible water to people who badly need it.
We report beneficial impact in two formats:
1) Hard Data -- a variety of important performance metrics to show how and where your donations are being invested and the results they are achieving.
2) Impact Stories -- about/from the real-life people benefiting from your donations.
Here is some additional information about our donors' impact:
Since Lifewater Canada began in 1995, our supporters have funded more than 5,292 water projects in sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti. That equates -- based on documented average numbers of beneficiaries for each type of project -- to safe drinking water and improved hygiene every day for more than three million people.
Lifewater Canada began responding to the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 by distributing masks, sharing hygiene information, providing disinfectant solution, and building hand-washing stations at African orphanages, clinics, and schools. We've also been busy repairing broken pumps and building new drinking and hand-washing water sources to reduce crowding at existing water points. Read more about Lifewater’s frontline work fighting COVID-19.
In many countries, women are socially responsible for gathering safe drinking water for their families' needs. Traditionally, girls help their mothers with this domestic chore. Photos of young girls gracefully walking with a pail of water on their heads don't portray how exhausting it is to carry a 40-pound pail of water from source to home.
Hauling water also takes a lot of time. UNICEF estimates that women and girls spend 200 million hours EVERY DAY collecting water! Gathering it before and after school means girls do not have the same time and energy as boys to perform well in school. Every well we drill and every pump we repair makes water more accessible, and reduces the need for women and girls to spend so much time hauling it long distances.
Our community-by-community research shows that the water projects our donors funded in the 12 months ended June 30, 2021, enabled girls to attend school for an additional 19,193 days per month because they no longer had to spend part of every day walking long distances to fetch water for their families.
Finally, neither girls nor boys can perform well academically when they are sick. A 2006 UN study found that children lose 443 million school days every year because of water related illnesses! And so safe, accessible water improves educational opportunities for girls and boys.
Children under age five are especially vulnerable to the dangers of unsafe water. Over half a million children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe drinking-water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene.
Also, the World Health Organization has said half of the developing world's hospital beds are occupied by people suffering from water-related diseases. Doctors in many different countries tell us the number of clinic admissions for diarrhea drops dramatically after wells are drilled nearby. Your donations will address this by training and equipping people in developing countries to provide their communities with safe drinking water.
Villages write to us about the positive impact Lifewater projects have on their families and communities. Read some of their letters here.
The World Health Organization says every $1 invested in safe drinking water and improved sanitation (toilets and hand-washing stations) achieves a $4.30 return on investment in reduced health care costs for individuals and society, and greater economic productivity because people are healthy and able to work. Lifewater surveyed families where we have completed water projects and learned although they used to spend as much as $4 each day to buy drinking water, they now spend only $1.35 each month to help maintain their water well. The money saved -- including reduced household medical bills -- is being used for school fees, to purchase seed for gardens, and for other pressing needs.
There is a well-known African proverb: “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, feed him for life.” Lifewater makes a lasting difference by investing locally -- training and equipping drillers and well caretakers, building the capacity of local project managers, and establishing and supporting local boards of directors.
Tens of thousands of wells around the world sit unused because their pumps are broken. Lifewater Canada is developing plans to visit each of our pumps twice yearly to ensure they are functioning. We're also active in repairing pumps installed by other organizations no longer providing follow-up support.
Our 2019-2020 audit of projects in Liberia found Lifewater pumps usually work for two years before needing repair. If organizations do not provide ongoing support to ensure pumps are maintained and repaired, wells will last only a little while before breaking down. When that happens, the health benefits of a well disappear, and women and girls again bear the burden of fetching water from more distant sources.
We have learned that pumps in Haiti have remained broken for an average 15 weeks due to a lack of locally affordable parts, initiative, or knowledge. During this time, before our repair teams can arrive, girls spend an extra six hours per week fetching water from neighbouring wells –- time and energy not available for schooling.
In comparison, pumps in Liberia sat broken for an average eight weeks. That is half the time than in Haiti, but the situation is much more dire because the alternate water supply is usually a stagnant swamp, a shallow dug well with limited water, or a muddy creek used for watering animals, doing laundry, and even as a toilet.
Lifewater remains committed to project follow-up and maintenance. We also strive to make projects sustainable by keeping them locally affordable rather than free, encouraging volunteerism, and maintaining a long-term local presence to help communities keep their pumps and water systems working.
In recent years, Lifewater has worked with villagers to repair hundreds of broken pumps. Here are examples. Our donors have also enabled us to replace many pumps broken beyond repair. Here are more examples.
Each pump repair or replacement is very significant. Lifewater project audits show that each repaired or replaced pump saves every girl or woman who fetches water an average of one million steps per year! For any of us who have tried to walk only 10,000 steps per day, we know what a huge effort that is -- without a heavy bucket of water balanced on our heads!
Lifewater was founded on the belief that all lives are created equal, and we are driven to save as many lives as possible. To do this, Lifewater is structured to minimize overhead and maximize impact.
Every donated dollar provides someone with safe drinking water for a year. How can we make that claim? It's based on each new well costing an average $5,000 to drill, and serving an average 600 people for normally almost eight years before major repairs are needed.
Lifewater Canada has been ranked for three consecutive years by Charity Intelligence — an independent organization that monitors the performance of more than 800 non-profit organizations — as one of the top 10 charities in Canada in terms of the impact our donors achieve for what they invest. Charity Intelligence estimates that every $1 donated to Lifewater has an impact of $7, which is well above the average charity's return of 1-2 times on the dollar. Read our news release about Charity Intelligence’s most recent rankings.
See for yourself the impact your donations make in people's lives
Thank-you letters from afar
It's very common for people in the communities receiving safe water through new wells, repaired pumps, etc., to provide thank-you letters to Lifewater and our donors. You're welcome to read some of them. They'll touch your heart. They certainly touch ours.