Water Changes Everything

“Clean water changes everything.”

Scott Harrison emphasized those four words when he visited the Upper School recently. Harrison shared his personal journey of founding Charity Water, a non-profit bringing clean and safe drinking water to developing countries. Dr. Cataldo’s Current Topics in Research and Science class has been collaborating with a Round Square school in London exploring hunger, clean water, and sanitation as part of a unit on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). SDG is a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. 

One in ten people in the world doesn't have access to clean water. This leads directly to disease—26 diseases are related to water quality. Another negative byproduct is children absent from school. Many are girls since it is typically the role of girls and women to spend hours each day walking to collect water. Harrison showed students how bringing clean water to people looks different in each country. Water sources, terrain, and population all play a part in determining what technology is required. Bio sand filters, rainwater catchments, and purification systems are some of the systems Charity Water helps to put in place. The result is not just improved health and school attendance, but economic growth as well. “We hear stories or entrepreneurship, of women starting small businesses, selling more things at the markets, spending more time with their kids--leading their communities forward,” explained Harrison.

Cataldo said of Harrison’s visit: “It gives students the vantage point of someone who’s doing work successfully and innovatively. They were able to learn from a leader in the field about how his work is positively disrupting one of the world’s largest challenges.” While clean water certainly does change everything, it takes people like Harrison, and perhaps someday BB&N students, to help provide that water.