It takes a while for my eyes to adjust to the lighting as the waiter returns to our table to take the drinks order. We’re not quite ready to order as we’ve just met and are talking avidly about our backgrounds and probably wondering what twist of fate has united us here, round this particular table on this particular night. The eve of World Water Week 2017.
To my right sits David De Armey, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Water for Good, diagonally opposite is Adrienne Lane, our now long time contact at Water for Good who is Director of Strategy and Development. Sitting opposite me is Adrienne’s husband, Paul with a doctorate in science, then there is me, the odd one out! The carpenter turned Social Entrepreneur. Adrienne and David are the front line of Water for Good, the charitable destination of Yuhme's Water bottles bought by many of you. And just before you say it, your money doesn’t go to their travels around the globe! Water for Good sources all its funding for personnel from other sources, so 100% of donations made from the public to Water for Good are spent on well repair, maintenance and digging of new wells.
De Armey is based in France and looks for partnerships with Water for Good all over Europe. He also heads out to the Central African Republic on a regular basis as operational support. He’s also worked in Chad with MIT boffins and tells us a story of being held by the secret police there at his hotel and interrogated for a week, nothing violent just had to repeat the same story over and over again. Adrienne mainly sources investment and partnerships on the other side of the pond, in the USA but now is heading over to Oxford University in the UK to pursue a masters in water science, policy and management.
...but not a drop to drink
Naturally, the conversation turns towards the CAR(Central African Republic) and Water for Good’s efforts and why they have been so effective. As De Armey explains,
“ The east is unstable, there are armed militias that roam the countryside and the government has been missing from that part of the country for a long time.”
He goes on to add,
“We work mainly in the west of the CAR and everyone there knows who we are because we’ve been working there for the last 11 years.”
These two points perfectly highlight why Water for Good has been so successful in the CAR, regardless of the circumstances Water for Good has consistently been working in the CAR providing clean water. They do this by repairing old wells, digging new ones and maintaining them. They incorporate the local people into the maintenance teams and even now have a local company on the ground helping to dig the wells.
Water for goods model is one to follow. Helping African people help themselves out of poverty, not by giving them a handout but by giving them education and training so that they themselves can take control of their lives and water supply. In fact I’m pretty sure those two things go hand in hand.
If you want to find out more about what Water for Good does or make a donation then you can head on over to their website.