Water Blog - Page 2 of 30 - WaterStep

WaterStep responds to Landslides in Colombia

In April of last year, thanks to you, WaterStep responded to the 7.8 earthquake that devastated the Esmeraldas Province of colombia 1
Ecuador. Thousands of people were displaced, and lacked immediate access to safe water as they sought to address and rebuild their communities.

Because of your support, WaterStep was able to meet an immediate need with a sustainable solution, focusing on empowering International Partners on the ground. WaterStep’s shift towards training, equipping, and supporting International Partners in safe water and sanitation through distance learning has allowed WaterStep to multiply their efforts. This new approach has proved significant increases in overall effectiveness and sustainability.

Now, a year later, WaterStep staff traveled to Ecuador to follow up on the 40 WaterStep safe water systems installed last year. We were pleased to discover the success of this disaster relief effort; however, in the midst of celebrating the project in Ecuador, Mark Hogg received information about the mudslide nearby in Mocoa, Columbia. “We are already this close. We have our equipment. We have to try,” says Hogg.

WaterStep responded in Colombia, mobilizing safe water treatment centers and providing training to local NGOs. WaterStep’s simple, yet effective, technology is doing more than providing safe water–it is providing hope and security for people whose lives have been shattered by disaster.

Read more about WaterStep’s recent decision to go to Colombia, in the Courier Journal.



“I must help get them well.” – Father Mungai

Father MungaiHi, my name is Father Joseph. I am an ordained Catholic priest from Kenya. I have always felt it my calling to serve and care for people, and that is why I wanted to become a priest. When I was in primary school, I was involved with my church, where I was able to serve different people around the world. This is my passion.

I currently serve 17 smaller churches, 11 Catholic schools, and 5,000-10,000 families. The majority of the people we serve are orphaned children, and most of these people and children have HIV or Aids.

The most common battle I witness is unsafe water. Water does not exist in my country like it does in America. Where I serve is a very dry place. We have filters, but you cannot use a filter if there is no water. My parish has tried several options to create a reliable system for safe water, but everything has failed. We have a pump, but without money, it cannot be repaired properly.

The Wait for Water

I look at the future and am concerned. I have become very disappointed in my ministry, because I believe you must care for the whole person: spirit and body. I go to visit families, and in my culture, you are served tea and/or water, and to reject this tradition is a rejection of the person. So, to not offend people, I drink it and pray that I do not get sick. However, I have personally had typhoid because I drank unsafe water.

My people see their priest as their solution because they cannot always afford to go to the hospital. So, they come to me for healing. I usually see 5-6 people a day to be annointed as a result of water-borne illness and poor sanitation. Mothers will tell me, “My child isn’t in school.” Men will tell me, “I lost my job.” Everything is connected to water. People must drink something, and because there is no water, they do not have time to consider whether it is safe or not. They know why they are sick, but what else can they do?

The lack of water is a double tragedy. People nor livestock can survive without water, which means people suffer from lack of food and water. They do not choose between being hungry or thirsty–they are always hungry and always thirsty because there is no safe water. Also, during the dry seasons, there is a significant drop in school attendance. Children must drop out of school to risk their lives walking long distances on unsafe roads at vulnerable times of day to fetch water that is killing them.

I am thankful that I have found WaterStep on social media, and am hopeful for access to safe water with their tools and support. I want this nightmare of unsafe water to go away, and WaterStep is helping me imagine that reality. I can’t just rely on sacraments and preaching. If peoples’ bodies are unhealthy, I cannot preach–I must help them get well. 

You can stop the double tragedy in communities like mine, and give hope for safer and healthier lives.

Donate to WaterStep now.

Bless you,
Father Joseph Mungai, Kenya

Reaching New Heights part 2

Empowerment.  A valuable word.  Waterstep takes pride in training people how to use safe water solutions like water purification so that communities in the developing world are empowered to take care of their own water needs for years.  Waterstep believes the best solutions to water problems are rooted in simple tools and effective training.

Waterstep is thrilled to report that the village of Atiriri in Central Uganda now has safe water because the Westlake Family  was empowered and trained by Waterstep to install safe water solutions in this village.  Remember Lucy? If not, click here.  Lucy and Faith had only been pen pals but now they are kindred spirits.   Lucy’s family and Faith’s family were instant friends. Lucy’s mom, Amy, says “It was clear that God had joined our spirits a long time ago.”

Lucy’s parents shared that they believe this is a model for the world!  The whole village, the tribe, had met several times before they arrived to appoint the four leaders that would be in charge of their water.  When the Westlake family arrived, they all worked together for two days to install and educate the team on WaterStep’s M-100 – the chlorine generator.  The village came together for a spirit-filled dedication and celebration of their new, safe water. It was noted by one of their community leaders that they no longer have to walk 3-4 miles a day to fetch water and neither do they have to sleep in the well until water arrives.

Lucy and her family continue their journey to Tanzania as Rodney (dad) and Lucy (12 years old) will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro this Saturday.  Just as Rodney and Lucy will reach new heights on Saturday, the village of Atiriri reached new heights as they worked together for two days to install and educate the local community on the M-100, Waterstep’s chlorine generator. WaterStep truly believes in empowering people like the Westlake family to transfer knowledge and empowerment to nationals in the developing world.


Reaching New Heights – part 1

Rodney and Amy WestlakeJust two weeks ago Rodney and Amy Westlake arrived to  WaterStep’s headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky to be trained on how to install portable safe water systems using WaterStep’s M-100 which provides 10,000 gallons of safe water per day.  Why?  Because their family will be traveling to Uganda on January 1 so that their daughter, Lucy, can climb Mount Kilimanjaro Jan 7-14 with her father.  Not only will she be summiting her way into the record books, she will be a WaterStep Ambassador as she and her family will be Saving Lives with Safe Water in Uganda.  Here’s how it all came to be:

When Lucy was two years old, she received a letter back from the child that had received her Operation Child Christmas Shoebox.  The girl’s name is Faith Olupot.  She is the same age as Lucy and lives in a rural village in Uganda.  She received the shoebox through the local Christian family center in her village.  Lucy and Faith began writing letters to each other.  In 2010, Faith’s father, Emmanuel, learned how to use a computer and reached out to the Westlakes via email.  The communication between Lucy and Faith’s family became easier and more frequent with computer access.  The Westlakes knew that Faith and her family were in desperate need of safe water and after learning about WaterStep years ago, they began praying and thinking about how they could take safe water to Faith and her family.lucy-and-rodneyuganda-and-lucy

In April 2011, the Westlakes – Rodney, Amy, Lucy and Jack – travelled to eastern Kentucky to develop a plan for the Middletown Christian Family Mission Trip to Lynch, Kentucky. It was there that they learned uganda-and-lucythe highest peak in Kentucky was a short drive up Black Mountain.  They drove to the high point and it was there that Lucy told her parents that she wanted to be baptized.  Driving home from that trip, they began to wonder and research where other state high points were located.  Yes, this family loves to travel.  That summer, they decided to stop and hike as many high peaks as they could on their family trip out West.  That was the beginning of the quest.  Lucy, now 12, and her father, Rodney, decided they wanted to hike all 50 state high points.  This past summer, they became the youngest father-daughter team to ever summit the lower 48 state high points.  Lucy set a world record as the youngest female to accomplish this goal. uganda-and-lucyuganda-and-lucy

The only mountain left to climb to complete Lucy’s goal of standing on top of all 50 state high points is Alaska’s Denali.  Denali is one of the most difficult mountains in the world to climb.  The trip is 21 days of hiking solely in snow, climbing to an elevation of 20,310 feet and carrying 100 pounds on your back.  After endless research, the Westlakes found a guide who would be willing to guide Rodney and Lucy on Denali.  But, there was one prerequisite.  Lucy had to first climb a mountain over 19,000 feet to see if her body could acclimate and handle the altitude.lucy

After Rodney hung up the phone with the guide company and told Amy the news, she immediately knew it was their time to go to Uganda.  Uganda is only a day drive away from Mount Kilimanjaro, an accessible 19,314 foot mountain.  The Westlake family arrives in Uganda on January 1. Rodney and Lucy will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro January 7-14. Stay tuned to hear more about this family’s mission to Save Lives with Safe Water.  WaterStep is confident that this family will save one child, one family, one community at a time just as Lucy and her father, Rodney have climbed one mountain at a time.


To Read more about Lucy’s story of determination and perseverance, click here.




Saving Refugees in Nigeria: Part Three

Part Three of Saving Refugees in Nigera By Chris Kenning

nigeria-post-three-3As dawn broke over a camp of thousands of refugees in their own country, a crowd of Nigerian women gathered at a raised concrete water tank with yellow plastic buckets and ropes.

Roosters crowed, Islamic calls to prayer were sung in the distance and smoke from early morning cooking fires drifted over the thatch and blanket shelters of 24,000 hungry, thirsty and sick residents, pushed from their homes by the Islamic insurgent group Boko Haram and its fight with the army.

Atop the tank, I watched Sulaiman Gumi shine a flashlight on an “internally displaced person” volunteer, who he’d trained to measure out bleach the created the night before with a WaterStep device. After pouring it into the tank and waiting for it to work, he was taking a measurement, squinting at the test results to be sure the water was now safe.

As soon as the word was given, the crowd rushed the tank amid the sound of buckets splashing into water as dozens lined up containers.

We were in Mongonu, located northeast of Maiduguri, less than 20 miles from the border of Chad and Cameroon. Here, WaterStep’s Portable BleachMaker is making water safe for 24,000 residents with just a car battery, table salt and a team of volunteers. It’s all organized by Sulaiman’s Nigerian NGO, Victims of Violence, which is partnering with WaterStep to help bring relief.

Along with sanitation training, the BleachMaker is reducing the risk of waterborne illnesses from cholera to typhoid in a region where a humanitarian crisis has left millions in severe need of food, clean water nigeria-post-three-1and shelter – leading the UN to warn that tens of thousands of children could die in the coming months.

“When a child is already weakened by malnutrition and illness, a waterborne illness can kill them,” Sulaiman said, something reinforced when we came across a boy camped under a tree with his mother sick and unable to even stand.

The chlorination also ensures that water stays clean after being collected, instead of being contaminated immediately after because of poor sanitation, dirty collection points and open defecation in some areas of a camp.

It was one of the projects installed by Victims of Violence, who were trained and equipped by WaterStep after a visit to Louisville last year.

Another is in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the capital of the war-torn Borno state.

There, a sprawling IDP camp was carved out of a civil service housing project whose construction was halted to house internally displaced persons. Here, many homes are made of sturdier wood and plastic sheeting.

In a school for 2,700 students – including orphans – Victims of Violence trained IDP teachers at the school to use WaterStep’s M-100 chlorinator, salt, and a car battery to purify a large tank that leads to taps exclusively for use of the children.

During one break on a hot morning, children rushed from the UNICEF tents used as classrooms to the water source, packing tight lines and jostling for a chance to cup their hands and drink.

Nigerian Army Captain Mohammed Lawal told us it’s helping reduce waterborne illness and, as a result, reducing absences from school.

nigeria-post-three-4On one day, Sulaiman trained volunteers at the camp’s other school, which serves 2,000 children, to use an M-100 to purify their own water.

But the need here is as big as an ocean. We came across an impromptu camp of rural farmers who were sick, living under scraps. An Army soldier pointed out the trench they’d dug to use in case of attack from Boko Haram, and residents were stomping out the remains of a thatch hut that had caught fire in the hot desert wind.

They had a well but it wasn’t chlorinated. And many still got their drinking water from a standing water used by cattle and for residents to bathe.

Not long after, Sulaiman was using paper to sketch out a plan for tanks, taps, pumps and pipes.

“I think we can help,” he said. “If we can bring them water from the riverbed, close to them, and chlorinate it, it would have a big impact.”

But all that takes time and money. Please consider helping.


If you have been inspired by Chris’s Updates from the field, please consider making a year end donation here.