3 Clean Water Solutions to End the Water Crisis

A staggering 784 million people live without basic access to clean water. That’s roughly 1 in 10 people on earth, and it is known as the global water crisis. The world needs clean water solutions now.

The global water crisis disproportionately affects children. Diarrheal diseases, caused primarily by unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene, are responsible for more deaths of children under five years old than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined. This is why, in places experiencing the highest level of diarrheal diseases, clean water solutions are especially needed.

The good news is this: Safe water and sanitation have been shown to nearly eliminate diarrheal disease, saving countless lives.

Below are three steps to developing lasting clean water solutions.

3 Clean Water Solutions

1. Identify an appropriate water source for a given context.

Right now, about 10 percent of the world lacks basic access to safe drinking water. Families drink from surface water sources like ponds and rivers or walk hours a day to reach a water well.

Every community is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all clean water solution. One sustainable way to solve the global water crisis is to first identify the most appropriate water source. Factors like the following should be considered when identifying the best water solution:

  • Are there existing water sources, like a natural spring, that can be protected from contamination? Protecting an existing source can be a cost-effective, preferred solution for communities already accustomed to using that source.
  • What cultural water preferences are at play? Some communities might prefer the taste of spring water over groundwater. Can a spring be protected or a water filtration system put in place to meet the cultural needs?
  • How cost-effective are the various clean water solutions? For a sustainable change, communities must be able to afford any upfront costs as well as the costs of any replacement parts and maintenance of their water source.
  • Are there government regulations that may prevent construction of the preferred water solution or slow down the process?
clean water solutions
A girl gathering contaminated water from a pond in Tanzania

“The objective is to provide safe drinking water, but there’s wide variety in the situations we work with,” Lifewater International’s Manager of WASH Engineering, Jon Viducich, said. “It’s important to use a flexible approach so we can identify what’s most appropriate for each location and group of users.”

A deep drilled well, for example, isn’t always possible. Sometimes there are no roads leading into a community, meaning a drill rig can’t be mobilized to those areas. It’s important to consult with all relevant stakeholders and experts—the community itself, the government, engineers, hydrogeologists, and others—when identifying the best solution.


2. Construct or rehabilitate high-quality water point structures.

In a study of 200 randomly-selected water sources in Uganda, 45% of water sources were not functional. Only 24% were able to provide sufficient, safe drinking water to the populations they served.

The others, if they were producing water at all, weren’t producing enough for the communities and/or the water was unsafe for drinking. It’s possible that thousands of water sources are currently broken down in areas of great need.

This issue hones in on one of the main issues in water point construction. That is, constructing an inappropriate water source for the situation or constructing poor-quality sources. Whether you are rehabilitating an existing source or starting from scratch, always do the following:

  • Hire a licensed, reputable contractor (or in-house employee) and pay a fair price to avoid cutting corners.
  • Follow international best practices and government standards for every type of water source.
  • Use materials that will last.

Rehabilitating a water source is typically a responsible financial decision and a proper stewarding of the resources available to us (that is, the hardware already at the site). But, doing everything you can to ensure that a water source is built to last during initial construction is always the best first step.


3. Develop sustainability models in partnership with governments.

As with all things mechanical, hand pumps and water wells are going to wear with use, even those built with high-quality materials by reputable contractors. That’s why every water source should have maintenance and repair processes in place from the start.

Clean water solutions
Lifewater staff member testing the water quality at a water source in Uganda

One of the largest issues contributing to the number of unused water sources around the world is that communities do not have maintenance and repair processes. A water well might not get annual maintenance, so parts wear and break. And when parts need replacement, the community may not have the saved funds to hire a technician.

It’s critical that every entity providing clean water (governments, NGOs) ensures communities are set up with the following:

  • A local supply and repair chain for high quality spare parts
  • Access to bank accounts or other safe, transparent savings mechanisms so that when their water source needs a part or a repair, they can afford it
  • Connections to local mechanics with appropriate technical experience who can rapidly respond to a breakdown to reduce the time a community has to wait for repairs

Performing regular preventative maintenance also helps a water source last longer and saves money by reducing the frequency of major breakdowns.

In parts of Lifewater’s Uganda programs, communities pay a monthly fee to the organization’s “WaterWorks” technicians. The Water Works team guarantees regular maintenance and timely repairs.

How to Provide Clean Water for Developing Countries

At Lifewater International, we work with local governments in low-income countries currently experiencing the worst of the global water crisis.

clean water solutions
A child in Cambodia drinking safe water

As a faith-based clean water organization operating in Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Cambodia, we walk with communities, learning from their local leadership and partnering to implement the most locally appropriate solutions to water problems.

Our experienced engineers design custom clean water solutions for every community in need and our team commits to regular monitoring on their water source. Plus, communities are always connected with local supply chains should their water source need a new part over the years.

We believe that every person should have access to safe drinking water, and we won’t stop until they do. You can make a difference today and bring safe water to a child, family, or community in need.


Choose a Village. Change a Life.