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Sub-Saharan Africa

Living Water International: Providing access to clean drinking water in Africa

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Living Water International

Countries: Ghana and Kenya

Sector: Water

Challenge: In many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, drinking water is so scarce that people must spend hours each day walking to collect it, transporting it back to their communities and boiling it so that it’s safe to drink. This lack of available water not only limits economic activity, but also affects the quality of health and life, often threatening the very lives of those who drink it.

“In the communities where we work, women walk up to 10 kilometers or more to collect water. The water sources they use are not safe, often teeming with bacteria, worms, and animal feces,” explains Malcolm Morris, Living Water Chairman Emeritus. “A five gallon bucket of water can weigh 40 pounds and carrying it is a struggle. I’ve seen everything from women suffering miscarriages to their spines compressed because of the heavy load. Collecting water can be an all-day process, for once the water is carried home, there is even more work involved to make the water safe to drink.”

Solution: Living Water International is a faith-based nonprofit in Houston that was formed in 1990 to help expand access to drinking water around the world so that those in remote communities can establish safe and secure sources of water. In 1994, Living Water helped organize an operation in Kenya, followed by efforts in Ghana in 1998. Living Water received second-hand drilling equipment from an oil company, but when that equipment wore out it sought to purchase new drilling technology. Between 2001 and 2006, OPIC provided three loans totaling $900,000 to Living Water to help them purchase new drilling rigs to more efficiently access water.

 “We’re grateful for the loans from OPIC which helped us expand operations in Kenya and Ghana. In 2002, we had completed 162 new wells,” said Living Water International President and CEO Mike Mantel. “Fifteen years later, we work in 20 countries and have over 17,055 water projects that have provided safe water to over five million people. In addition, our approach has transitioned from installing single water points to a multi-faceted program that allows recipients to maintain water, sanitation, and hygiene for both themselves and their communities…. Yet, even with the progress we’ve seen, there are still 663 million people globally who lack access to safe water and we’re committed to continue multiplying our impact, efficiency and learning in the years ahead until each and every person has access to safe water."


This project was profiled in 2016