Unsafe water is a leading cause of disease and death. The World Health Organization says at least 1.7 billion (or almost one in four) people on our planet are drinking water each day contaminated by feces, and over half a million people are dying each year from diarrheal diseases caused by contaminated water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene.

Every 22 seconds someone dies from water-related diseases — a quarter of which are children under the age of 5. In Africa, nearly half of the people throughout the continent lack access to safe water and sanitation facilities.

In response, the United Nations has included water and sanitation among its Development Goals since 2010 — insisting that everyone on the planet should have access to safe water for drinking, handwashing, and sanitation by 2030.


Hauling water disproportionately affects women and girls in the nations where we work, as they are typically responsible for their family's water needs. The task takes a lot of time and effort, causing fatigue and muscular damage over time. It also exposes them to danger along the way from snake bites, disease, and violence – including assault and rape – especially when travelling alone in the dark. Gathering water often requires children to miss time in school, and even when able to gather their water before and after school, it leaves them with less time and energy to dedicate to their studies. Additionally, girls often miss school while menstruating, as they lack access to the basic hygiene products that would enable them to remain active.

Only 30% of sub-Saharan Africans have access to adequate sanitation, which is only a four-percentage-point improvement since 1990, whereas 90% of northern Africans have access. In Canada and the U.S., almost everyone has access to safe drinking water. In contrast, the proportion in:

  • Nigeria is 19%
  • Liberia is 25%
  • Haiti is 52%
  • Kenya is 58%

The situation is almost always worse in rural areas as they have to travel further to access safe water and sanitation. Rising water costs, a lack of infrastructure, and climate change have led to an increase in water scarcity.

Our Vision

Lifewater Canada was founded in 1995, and became a Registered Canadian Charity in 1997, on the certainty that all lives are of equal value in God's eyes and must be in our eyes too.

We envision a world in which children do not get sick and die because they have no safe drinking water; a world where girls, who would otherwise have to walk miles to find water for their families, can spend their time in school, receiving the same educational opportunities as boys.

We also envision a world in which all people are treated equally, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, family status, race, culture, ethnic or national origin, religious beliefs, age, political affiliation, or other characteristics. Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy explains this commitment in detail.

Our goal is to provide people with a lifetime of adequate quantities of safe water, thanks to donors who come from many walks of life and many faiths. We strive for consistency between our beliefs and our actions by:

  1. Regarding all people as being created equal
  2. Speaking and acting honestly
  3. Ensuring that donations are used for the purpose for which they were given
  4. Holding ourselves openly accountable before God and our donors for all that we do



Lifewater is uniquely positioned to enable you to invest in cost-effective, compassionate relief because we:

  • Consistently keep our overhead costs below 10%
  • Have a proven record since 1995; giving more than six million people safe water so far!
  • Link donations to specific projects so that when projects are completed, donors have access to detailed reporting including photos, GPS coordinates, community profiles and thank-you letters
  • Build capacity by forming, training, and equipping registered non-profits overseas that are managed and staffed by local people
  • Have developed a multi-phase approach to mobilizing communities to ensure long-term project maintenance
  • Follow a proven framework for fiscal responsibility
  • Provide free well-drilling training materials for any organization to use; we want to help as many people as possible, and believe that true empowerment comes from sharing knowledge!


We train and equip local, in-country teams to drill new wells and repair existing ones. Donors fund these projects while villages contribute a token amount of money and "sweat equity." Our teams train and equip a local Well Caretaker, and host Health and Hygiene workshops to help prevent water-related diseases.

We focus our work on Haiti, Liberia, Nigeria, and Kenya because these countries have a desperate need for safe water, their governments have limited capacity to respond, and there is a general lack of required equipment and trained workers. In addition, groundwater is readily accessible at a low cost, resulting in high project success rates and maximum impact for every dollar invested.


Lifewater is guided by four key Development Goals:

The first two goals focus on ensuring people have a maximum 30-minute round-trip to gather safe water that is available year-round. The second two goals relate to community ownership of water projects and their commitment to long-term maintenance of these projects.

Click on each of the four Development Goals above to learn more about its significance and scoring, and to read stories explaining why we adopted it.

operational scorecard

We Keep Costs Down

Our small handful of full-time and part-time employees in Canada work from their own homes. Overseas, we empower and equip our partners so there is only an occasional need for someone from Canada to visit. We also employ low-cost technologies (for example, hand-powered well pumps rather than those requiring electricity or gas engines).

The training provided to our overseas teams includes well drilling, well repair, pump repair, hydrogeology, water quality testing, prevention of disease transmission, equipment maintenance, and business planning. We enable our overseas teams in various countries to meet and share knowledge so everyone benefits.

One of our most important teaching resources in Lifewater Canada’s Well Drilling Manual.

Village Participation is Essential

In a normal marketplace, money must be exchanged before goods or services are provided. On the other hand, we have learned that if water wells are provided for free, there is very little village ownership and the pumps will not be maintained and will break down.

For projects to be successful in the long-term, community members must be willing to work together, share food and shelter with the Lifewater team while they are on-site, and give time, energy, finances and other resources towards the project.

Villagers perform maintenance, raise repair funds, and establish rules for issues such as:

  • When the pump should be locked and when water can be drawn (to guard against over-use and breakdown)
  • How users must contribute towards required pump repair work
  • Ensuring that women and children have easy and safe access to the well
  • Who will be the official Well Caretaker

Ongoing Monitoring

Details about each of the thousands of Lifewater Canada projects is loaded into a custom-designed database that enables us to track:

When wells were drilled, community toilets built, hand pumps repaired, and last inspected

Contact information for the Well Caretakers we train in each community

Maintenance contract information (type, payments received, etc.)


Children under age five are especially vulnerable to the dangers of unsafe water, with over half a million children dying every year. The World Health Organization says half of the developing world's hospital beds are occupied by victims of water-related diseases. This number drops dramatically after wells are drilled nearby.


Families living near our water projects that would spend as much as $120 each month to buy drinking water now spend only $1.35 per month to help maintain their community well. This saves money for other pressing needs and reduces health care costs for individuals and society. It also enables greater economic productivity as people are healthy and able to work.


We seek to make a lasting difference by investing locally – training and empowering teams to become local NGO’s. We emphasize sustainability by keeping projects affordable rather than free, encouraging volunteerism, and maintaining a long-term local presence to help communities with ongoing maintenance.


We report in two ways the impact your donations are having:

  • Hard Data: performance metrics showing the results your gifts are achieving
  • Real-life stories: about the people benefiting from your investment


Meet some of the people that make up Lifewater Canada — from our board of directors, Canadian employees, and our overseas partner teams.


Many aspects of Lifewater's current strategy stems from lessons we've learned along the way. Read some of our real-life stories here.

Every $1 you give provides a child with safe water for a year!






457 Heather Crescent
Thunder Bay, ON P7E 5L1
+1 807-622-4848

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