Posted by: wfpdc | January 27, 2013

Food for Thought and World Water Day 2013

The theme for the 2013 UN International Year and World Water Day is “Water Cooperation”. The global conversation regarding water cooperation and water rights is more important than ever.  Global warming is forecasted to bring changes in weather and water systems across the globe, including an increase in extreme weather events, like Hurricane Sandy.  Water cooperation will play an important role in adapting and managing these changes.  The Guardian has published a pertinent article describing how: Global Water Governance Trends Show Move Away From Private Ownership.  Water bodies are increasingly being managed on a watershed-level basis and involving multiple stakeholders.

So, in anticipation of the day on March 22, 2013, take some time to ponder what water cooperation means to you.


September 10, 2012

Less than one percent of our planet’s water is fresh water, and this life-giving resource supports humans as well as some 126,000 other species. Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects that integrate watershed management and environmental sustainability are best for helping preserve our natural ecosystems and freshwater supplies for future generations. To underscore this point, WASH implementation can actually reduce freshwater resources and cause further ecological harm if conservation management issues are ignored.

Washington D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted a panel to discuss these issues, detailed in David Bonnardeaux’s recent report entitled “Linking Biodiversity Conservation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: Experiences from sub-Saharan Africa.” The report, released June 30, 2012, documents a USAID-sponsored initiative to review on-ground development projects addressing both WASH and freshwater conservation issues. Conservation International (CI) and the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) were partnered in the project. Author Bonnardeaux, CRS technical WASH expert, Dennis Warner, and CI representative Bruno Rajaspera were present for the discussion. The full report can be viewed at


Tanzania: Pangani Basin Environmental Flow Assessment
Funded by the IUCN Water & Nature Initiative, the Tanzanian government, the European Commission, and the UN Development Program. EFAs evaluate river basin hydrology, ecosystem flow dynamics and water’s socioeconomic value. These are becoming the standard for determining water amounts needed to sustain both aquatic ecosystems and human needs. Data was collected to produce a basin hydrology model, a river and estuary health assessment, a socio-economic baseline assessment, a river flow assessment tool, and specialty studies (hydropower operations, vegetation, fisheries, macroeconomics, and climate change). From this information, 15 future scenarios were calculated to consider water needs for domestic, agricultural, and energy use. Water-use efficiency was recommended as the main priority area for regional water management due to increasing use of water for agriculture.

South Africa: Working for Wetlands in South Africa
Funded by the Government of South Africa and the South African National Biodiversity Institute, this is one example of a Payment for Watershed Services program, or PWS, involving payment by beneficiaries for use and maintenance of their watershed through an incentive-based approach. The project focused on removing invasive species in the wetland to improve water flow. An economic incentive for the community motivated over 62 workers to build concrete and earth structures to control erosion, as well as remove invasive alien plant species. The government, who shouldered the majority of project costs, now realizes a USD $1 million return on its investment.

Madagascar: Ranon’ala Project
Funded by USAID, CI, and CRS, it provided clean water and sanitation to remote communities using Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) approaches. Activities included a public awareness campaign to increase knowledge of family planning, WASH and Population, Health and Environment (PHE) integration, capacity building through employ of field agents and community health workers, field visits to monitor progress, and creation of water infrastructure. One main challenge identified was that of project staff walking many hours to reach extremely remote communities. Also, the project dealt with environmental issues of cyclones and other natural disasters. Main lessons were that physical presence is important during project implementation, a variety of communication tools are needed for best results, and integrated PHE messages were key.


1) WASH implementation can reduce freshwater resources if conservation management issues are ignored
2) WASH sector does not address climate change issues well or at all
3) Difficult for development sectors to work together intellectually (e.g. WASH and conservation sectors)
4) Difficult to find integrated projects for study
5) M&E tools inadequate for measuring WASH/conservation integration (currently measure implementation of each separately)
6) Current lack of conservation integration in planning efforts; this should be ongoing and long-term
7) Cost of conflict adds to environmental and other costs in development (e.g. river dams, gang violence)


1) Cost & effective sharing save money (e.g. less personnel needed, fewer resources)
2) Experiencing success in shorter-term health goals through WASH can create community buy-in for longer term goals of conservation projects
3) Both specialist and generalist personnel are needed to avoid siloed water vs. conservation camps
4) EFA’s and PW’s have good potential for WASH integration
5) Better M&E systems are needed for integration of systems
6) WASH guidelines are currently found mainly in emergency response programming; need exists for WASH guidelines in conservation programs

Posted by: wfpdc | August 1, 2012

Seven Continents, Three Peaks Each, Equals 21

Twenty-one. That is the total number of peaks that Jake Norton has challenged himself
to climb as part of Challenge21.

If you have not heard, we have been talking a lot about Challenge21 in recent months. Mostly because we are hiking in solidarity with Challenge21 for our annual hike-a-thon this year, but also because we think what Jake Norton is trying to achieve is pretty awesome.

For three to four years, Jake will travel the world to summit the three highest peaks on each continent, with plans to raise at least $2.1 million to increase awareness and to combat water and sanitation problems around the world. If he is successful, he will be the first person to climb the Triple Seven Summits! Why choose Water For People as the sole beneficiary of his efforts with Challenge21? Because, Jake says, that Water For People addresses the two most profound and fundamental issues facing the world today. Challenge21 expeditions are being funded by corporate sponsors, thereby allowing 100% of the donations to go directly to Water For People. To learn more about Challenge21, visit, and see which seven peaks Jake has already climbed.

And if this has inspired you to summit your own peak, please join the DC Water For People Committee on Saturday, August 18th for our annual hike-a-thon. We will be hiking Sugarloaf Mountain; not quite a fourteener, but it is an interesting mountain nonetheless. For more information, or to register click here. Sign up today to be guaranteed a DC Water For People water bottle, as pre-registration and early bird price ends August 6th. We hope to see you on the trails!

Posted by: wfpdc | June 19, 2012

Canoe/Kayak Event a Success!

A big thank you to the Washington Canoe Club and everyone who came to the Canoe/Kayak Event last weekend! The weather was beautiful and the event was a great success, raising $240 for Water For People.

Whit Overstreet of the Potomac Riverkeepers gave the history of Riverkeepers and their mission to protect the waters that support our lives. Whit also provided some details on the Potomac and discussed problems facing the local DC water supply, such as combined sewer overflows. Donna Callejon, of Global Giving and a member of the Water For People Board of Directors, spoke on the importance of Water For People’s work and success. Lunch was marked by a delicious BBQ and four lucky raffle winners. Although the water was high due to a severe storm the night before, everyone made it to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Island and back, and had a great time doing so!
Posted by: wfpdc | June 12, 2012

2012 Hike-a-Thon

The annual DC Water For People Hike-A-Thon at Sugarloaf Mountain is fast approaching on August 18, 2012!


This year we are hiking in solidarity with Challenge21 and summiting a peak of our own!  The hike will be held at Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, MD. We’ll hike about 5 miles around the base of the mountain (on the blue trail), take in great views of the countryside and enjoy the shaded trails. Then we’ll finish the hike atop the mountain at a height of over 1,200 feet.

The hike will start at 9:00am this year, to beat the heat a little bit. We’ll once again have checkpoints along the way, where we’ll ask trivia questions about Water For People, the global water crisis, and Challenge21. You can win great prizes, such as: an REI flashpack, two 2-day passes to the Newseum, $30 gif card for Bread Company, $25 gift card to Cupcakery, and $25 gift card to Home Body.

The hike is rain or shine.  Dogs are welcome at Sugarloaf, but must be kept on a leash


From I-270, take the Hyattstown exit/Route 109.  Take Route 109 heading west.  There will be brown signs with directions for Sugarloaf Mountain.   If you’re coming from Frederick, it should be a left turn onto Route 109. If coming from DC, it should be a right turn onto Route 109.  After almost 3 miles, you’ll be making a right turn onto Comus Road, just past The Comus Inn. After about 2.5 miles, you’ll reach the base of Sugarloaf.  Take a right turn into the park (past the barn), and continue to the top. We’ll be meeting at the West Parking Lot.


Because Sugarloaf is so popular and parking is limited, we are STRONGLY encouraging carpooling. If you need a ride, or would like to offer a ride, please email and provide your name, contact info (email or phone), where you live, and how many people you can take. For those who volunteer to drive, we’ll be giving you an extra raffle ticket!


The cost is $20 per person, or $100 for a team/family of up to six. Dogs and children under ten are FREE. We’ll be giving away fabulous aluminum water bottles to those who pre-registered (and others while supplies last). A big thank you to Arcadis for sponsoring the water bottles! Onsite registration will be available for $25.

Registration is closed.

Help Raise More Money:

NEW THIS YEAR – you can treat the hike as a true hike-a-thon and collect pledges to help us raise even more funds for a great cause!  Encourage your friends and family to join you at the hike, but if they cannot make it, see if they’ll pledge you a few dollars per mile.  Did you know it only takes about $20 to help provide a safe, reliable water source for one person? Just a little bit can go a long way!

Visit our Crowdrise page here, and join the Team to start raising money!  We’ll be offering special prizes to those who collect the most pledges.

After the Hike:

If you’d like, join fellow hikers for a picnic and some wine tasting after the hike! A group will be heading over to Sugarloaf Mountain Winery (18125 Comus Road, Dickerson, MD) after the hike.  If you’re interested, bring a picnic (and chairs or a blanket) and $10 to taste their 9 award-winning wines!  Dogs are welcome too!

About Challenge21:

Climber and Water For People supporter Jake Norton has dedicated the next few years to climbing the three highest peaks on each of the seven continents, all to raise awareness of the global water crisis. He recently crossed the mighty Mount Everest off the list, and raised over $31,000 in the process. To keep up to date with Jake and his fellow climbers on their latest quest, visit or follow them on Twitter here.

About Sugarloaf Mountain:

Sugarloaf Mountain is graciously letting us use their site and facilities and are also a non-profit, visit their website to become a member or a benefactor.

Posted by: wfpdc | June 12, 2012

Want an Excuse to go to Madam’s Organ?

Here’s one: eat dinner and drink a beer or two in support of Water For People!

Join the DC Committee for a Happy Hour at Madam’s Organ from 5:00 to 8:00 pm on Thursday, July 26th and enjoy live music and drink specials while we raise funds for Water For People! Best of all, no donations or cover charge required! Madam’s Organ will donate 20% of food sales and $1 for each drink, so be sure to indulge in some of the best soul food in town! Drinks are $1 off menu price until 8pm!


At Madam’s Organ you will enjoy the atmosphere of a live blues bar and soul food restaurant that has been repeatedly voted one of the Top 20 in the entire country! Leave it to Madam’s Organ to give you an opportunity to drink for a cause OR, for all of you regulars out there, to give you a cause for a drink!
ALL are welcome to attend – no registration needed, so bring your friends!
Posted by: wfpdc | May 28, 2012

Family and Friends Canoe/Kayak Event Next Weekend!

We still have a few seats available at the Family and Friends Canoe/Kayak event next weekend. Sign up on the event page in the upcoming events tab! There will be food, adult beverages, canoes and kayaks on a fun filled afternoon at the Washington Canoe Club. Speakers Whit Overstreet from Potomac Riverkeepers and Donna Callejon of the Water For People Board of Directors will be joining us. We also have some great raffle prizes listed below. Raffle tickets will cost $1 each so bring a few extra dollars.

Hope to see you there!

Raffle Prizes: $25 gift card to Homebody, 2 passes to the Newseum, $25 gift card to Ella’s Pizza, 2 passes to the Marian Koshland Science Museum, and Landmark Theater Movie Tickets

Hi, my name is Rachael Moxley and as a new member of the Water For People DC committee, I’d like to share some thoughts about what inspired me to get involved:

My first introduction to Water For People was the panel discussion hosted by the DC committee at George Washington University earlier this year. At the discussion, John Sauer, the Assistant Director of Thought Leadership for Water For People, highlighted their Sanitation as a Business program in Malawi. The program was intended to address the problems that pit latrines will fill up over time until they can no longer be used, while others don’t work from the start. The latrines are often installed as a means of improving sanitation services with the help of foreign aid.

I was reminded of a similar failure with foreign water solutions, of which I became aware in college while I was part of a project team called AguaClara. AguaClara is a team of students at Cornell University led by Professor Monroe Weber-Shirk, a professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. AguaClara has a niche in small-scale, water quality treatment options for communities in Honduras whose primary drinking water source is surface waters that become turbid during the rainy seasons.

Some communities in Honduras were given or had purchased packaged water treatment plants by international development organizations. The shiny, metal, computer-run systems were flown in and handed over, and the companies who brought them were gone as quickly as they came. However, because of their poor design, high electricity demands, and lack of local supply chains for replacement parts, there has been little success with these systems. According to Monroe’s blog, 50% of the 20 package plants installed in Honduras between 2003 and 2008 have already been abandoned.

The project team developed from the realization by Dr. Weber-Shirk that although the water quality issues being dealt with by Hondurans were easily addressed by the standard methods of designing water treatment plants in the United States, once you took away electricity, the design was not well understood or well researched.

If you go to AguaClara’s wiki website, you’ll notice four words: research, invent, design, and empower. The first three underscore the focus of the efforts to improve and invent technologies to meet the needs of the communities, such as improved understanding of flocculation that have led to reduced tank sizes and lower costs, the invention of stacked rapid sand filters, which can be backwashed without electricity and the open-source web-tool that lets communities create custom designs complete with AutoCAD drawings. The result is eight gravity-powered water treatment plants serving thousands of people in Honduras. However, the last word “empower” is just as important as the first three.

AguaClara empowers local communities by partnering with the local non-governmental agency Agua Para el Pueblo, which although it translates to “water for people,” it is not affiliated with Water For People. Agua Para el Pueblo constructs the plants and offers capacity training for communities that have or want to have a treatment plant. As more plants are built, the network of communities with these plants, becomes a resource for community knowledge sharing and troubleshooting. And because the communities now have a more reliable water supply, the local water juntas have more leverage to collect the funds necessary to keep them running.

As a result of my experiences, I was impressed by John Sauer’s description of Water For People’s goal to identify research and development hurdles for sustainable water and sanitation practices to be developed in the countries where they work. I was also impressed by the importance that he placed on the involvement of the local community.

He explained that in Malawi there is a large demand for pit-latrine-emptying services, or else there would be if someone offered them. The research and development hurdle that Water For People identified was how to empty the latrines. In the US, septic systems are emptied with vacuum trucks. In Malawi, a motorcycle truck, or a Piki-Piki can more easily access remote pit latrines, but because it is so light, waste pumped into a tank on the cart could cause it to tip over. By figuring out how these pit latrines can be emptied or re-used, a local business for servicing the pit latrines can be established.

Through research and development Water For People aims to create incentives to spur local private sector businesses, so that the sanitation solutions become sustainable as they become profitable. In this way, the goal for addressing sanitation evolves from simply the installation of pit latrines to ongoing sanitation services, and improved sanitation will be made available to more people.

Volunteers through World Water Corps, an arm of Water For People, reaches out to communities to find out what is happening and what is needed by the people who need it the most. They record observations and interviews with community members in homes, business places, and schools that hold the Water For People programs accountable.

Working on the AguaClara team has shaped my perception of water development issues, and they align well with Water For People’s mission. The real challenge facing water and sanitation development is to develop solutions that use appropriate technology and provide local capacity-building to maintain and expand their own water and sanitation services. I am looking forward to supporting Water For People and its mission through the DC committee!

Posted by: wfpdc | April 21, 2012

Reflections on World Water Corps

Have you ever been asked or asked a traveling friend, how was Africa? Each time I hear it I can’t help but picture a map and all the regions of that vast continent where I haven’t set a foot down. For this trip, my Africa experience was three districts within Uganda: the Mukono, Kyenjojo and Kamwenge Districts. These three districts were familiar but subtly different in their water and sanitation situation. Mukono is a largely peri-urban district near the capital city of Kampala where it was sunny and hot all week long while we were looking at the household sanitation situation. After Mukono, we moved west to the mountain districts near Fort Portal to map community access to improved water sources. Here we found larger distances and rougher terrain between villages and some enjoyably temperamental weather, catching the field teams in some afternoon thunderstorms a few times. Kyenjojo as I experienced it, was a rich farming region with a high water table that gave the region plenty of water but caused some trouble with the pit portion of the pit latrines. Kamwenge presented similar weather, terrain and great distances to cover for our teams but had insufficient and seasonal access to water. Improved water sources in all three of these districts were limited and too often down for repairs.

The trip was a great success in the amount of data collected, but I think is the greater accomplishment was training a local team of enumerate surveys to use FLOW.

These individuals can now serve as an invaluable tool to Water For People – Uganda in establishing a baseline, taking action and monitoring progress throughout these regions. After serving on a Water For People committee for 2 years, this was my first direct experience with the work that Water For People does and it was an incredibly rewarding one! I was always impressed and inspired when reading about Water For People, their approach, practices and impact on water and sanitation access in the developing world and now I can say that I have seen it first hand. I had some beers with the Uganda Country Director and witnessed his passion for his country and promoting water as a business. I was also very impressed with the members of the sanitation as a business team and their commitment to latrines and innovation. Overall this trip was a wonderful cultural experience that reinforced my commitment and support of Water For People and their efforts!

If anyone has questions about what’s involved in joining a World Water Corps trip, feel free to shoot me your questions or click here for more information!

Posted by: wfpdc | April 1, 2012

World Water Corps Uganda Part II

Greetings from Fort Portal, Uganda! We are amidst our second week of data collection, working in the Kyenjojo District the last two days. The first week was spent in the Mukono District near Kampala. When I say we, we are Katherine Alfredo, Jeanne Depman, James Dumpert and myself all led by Andrew Britton. In addition the Water For People – Uganda staff, Gerald and Keziah, respectively responsible for the data analysis and our everyday logistics, are along for the ride through the trainings and out in the field.

Water For People – Uganda has teamed with Uganda Environmental Education Foundation for the Mukono District and they were able to round up an amazing group of people to be enumerators for the household water/sanitation surveys. We all met for the first time last Monday when Andrew showed everyone how to take surveys using FLOW on the provided smart phones. We then broke into teams and I spent the next 3 days with Deo and Richard. Deo, I believe, works for the Mukono local government as a non-profit liaison and Richard is a recent graduate studying deforestation nearby where we were surveying. Each morning we we drove away out along a dirt road and spent the next 8 hours going to individual households and asking them about their water sources and sanitation facilities. While I am out of place and do not speak the local language, I serve as tech support and make sure that after the volunteer team takes off the trained team can come back out and take more surveys in the region as needed by Water For People – Uganda and UEEF. Over the course of three days the entire team was able to collect over 450 surveys!

I write from the mountainous and beautiful Fort Portal where we are enjoying the sometimes rainy weather. Fitting with Water For People’s work in the region, I have found that what I miss most is an abundance of drinking water. Tap water is not considered potable and I have had trouble finding a place to fill my water bottle. When you ask for water at a restaurant, you get a half liter bottle. We are focusing on community water points in Kyenjojo for one more day, then we switch to the community water points in the Kamwenge District for the rest of the week. It’s beautiful out here and I am enjoying riding Boda Bodas (motorcycles) through the hills of rural Uganda!

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