Even if you don’t read TMZ or People magazine, you may have heard that actor Matt Damon isn’t using the toilet until the World Water crisis is solved.

No doubt Damon has visited the bathroom dozens of times since announcing his “strike.” But through humor, he called attention to a serious problem that affects billions of people and likely prompted more than a few people to ask “what water crisis?”

This is the water crisis Damon is referring to:

  • 780 million people on Earth lack access to clean water
  • 2.5 billion people don’t have a toilet
  • 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes.
  • Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness

Most of the people who lack clean water and sanitation live in the developing world.

An Ethiopian woman gathers water from a contaminated source. Courtesy Water.org
An Ethiopian woman gathers water from a contaminated source. Courtesy Water.org

If you are reading this post, you probably have clean water to drink, a toilet to flush, and a hot shower whenever you want one. If you have children, they probably didn’t miss school today because they were sick from drinking dirty water or because they had to walk for miles to collect water for your family.

March 22 is World Water Day, an opportune time for people with clean water to help those without it. It is easy to do, and you don’t have to stop using the toilet.

Taking shorter showers, running the dishwasher only when it’s full, and finding other ways to conserve water in your daily life — these are all important.

But you can have an even greater impact by supporting a nonprofit organization that is working to solve the global water crisis. According to the nonprofit Water.org, a donation of just $25 can bring one person clean water for life.

Children wash with clean water in Haiti. Courtesy Water.org
Children wash with clean water in Haiti. Courtesy Water.org

To get you started, here are a few organizations that the Cisco Foundation supports through its Global Impact Grant program:

icon_waterorgWater.org, co-founded by Matt Damon, develops partnerships with local organizations to create solutions that are tailored to meet the needs of each community and can be sustained long-term.

icon_waterforpeopleWater for People supports the development of locally sustainable drinking water resources, sanitation facilities, and hygiene education programs. Water for People created FLOW (Field Level Operations Watch), a smartphone-based system that allows water organizations to collect, manage, analyze, and display data that enables them to improve their programs, adapt them to the community’s needs, and involve local residents in the process.

Learn how one organization in Malawi is using FLOW in a blog by Water for People Senior Manager Keri Kugler on the Huffington Post.

icon_blueplanetBlue Planet Network uses human and technology networks to improve the planning, selection, management and monitoring of water and sanitation programs, leading to more lasting impact at lower costs.

icon_akvo_logoIf you are familiar with the crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Kiva, you might like Akvo, which builds open source Internet and mobile software to support international development. One of Akvo’s programs is to vet water projects around the world and facilitate funding for them. Right now the Akvo website lists more than 700 water projects seeking funding, which you can sort by country, organization, or continent.


Alexis Raymond

Senior Manager

Chief Sustainability Office