Lifewater International is a non-profit, Christian water development organization dedicated to effectively and sustainably serving the world’s rural poor through integrated water, sanitation, and hygiene programs. In 35 years, Lifewater has served 2.3 million people in 40 countries. Lifewater trains, equips, and empowers local partners to provide their own communities with safe water. The goal is to empower the local population with self-sustaining solutions versus temporary relief.
Lifewater was founded by William A. Ashe in 1977. Owner of a water pump business, the Ashe family started taking trips to Mexico to promote water sanitation to those in need in the late 1960s. Over time, these small family trips grew to include other water professionals. As a result of the success of these trips, William Ashe officially developed the Lifewater name in 1977. In 1984 Lifewater became a registered California non-profit and in 1986 was granted rights as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation by the IRS. Currently Lifewater is headquartered in San Luis Obispo, California.
Projects and the need for water
Clean and safe drinking water is what we commonly think of to solve a community’s disease problem. In reality, if we were able to provide clean and safe drinking water to every person on earth, the global water-borne disease burden would only be reduced by 21%. The same decrease would happen if every person on earth had access to a basic toilet facility. The power of clean and safe water is truly unleashed when it is combined with adequate sanitation and hygiene practices.
Lifewater has developed a missional approach to meet these urgent needs. We call this approach mWASH, which combines the best in water access, sanitation and hygiene. When combined, these elements are able to reduce the incidence of water-borne disease by at least 65%.
Lifewater is a member of the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA), a coalition of water development organizations dedicated to joining efforts to raise awareness of the need for safe water and sanitation around the world. It is certified by the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA) and has a 49/70 rating on Charity Navigator, America's largest and most utilized independent evaluator of charities.
What does mWASH mean?
m = missional
When people feel powerless before humiliation, disease, and death, they often come to erroneous conclusions about God and his relationship with them. Christian water development alone cannot fully articulate God’s love in Christ, but when combined with evangelistic and discipleship efforts of the local church it proclaims God’s all-encompassing and redeeming love for the poor.
WA = Water Access
Sufficient access to safe water sources.
Lifewater’s strategy involves teaching local implementing partners the needed skills and providing them with drilling equipment, repair tools, and spring protection expertise. Thus, these partners are empowered to drill wells, repair broken hand pumps, protect natural springs, and use other techniques to provide safe water to their own communities.
S = Sanitation
Safe disposal of human excreta and wastewater.
Sanitation practices vary from one culture to another, and even within communities from one household to another. Lifewater considers the practices of the regions in which we work and teaches local implementing partners how to help families improve their sanitation to stop the spread of disease. Lifewater makes strategic investments in latrine design, construction, and innovation.
H = Hygiene
Cleanliness behaviors such as hand washing, using dish drying racks, and covering safe water containers.
The hygiene aspect of mWASH encompasses behaviors or actions that individuals can take to improve their health and stop the spread of disease. While access to safe water and improved sanitation is critical, hygiene behaviors are necessary for keeping water, hands, utensils, and the environment safe. Local partners conduct hygiene trainings, with the help of Lifewater’s curriculum which was developed using years of field experience, feedback, and knowledge of local practices.
Lifewater projects are funded by individual donors, churches, corporate giving, foundations, and the federal government. See the links below to learn more about some of these funding partners. Lifewater is also a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
No matter how much food and health care is given to aid the poor in developing countries, it is simply a band-aid if they still drink contaminated water…. Lifewater International offers continual hope and health.
More people are likely to suffer and die this year and this decade from the lack of clean water than from all armed conflicts combined.
No issue has ever been more neglected [than water and sanitation]. And it is neglected because it is of concern mainly to the poor and powerless.
The violation of the human right to clean water and sanitation is destroying human potential on an epic scale.—2006 Human Development Report from the UN Development Program
The 1.8 million child deaths each year related to unclean water and poor sanitation dwarf the casualties associated with violent conflict.—2006 Human Development Report from the UN Development Program
- "Charity Navigator Rating - Lifewater International". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
- Beyond Scarcity: Power, poverty and the Global Water Crisis. 2006 Human Development Report from the UN Development Program