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Nearly 90 Percent of the World Has Clean Water—Here’s How We Get To 100

A decade’s worth of hard work has paid off—so what’s next?

Image via Charity: Water

Ten years ago, GOOD published its first issue and launched a mission to improve underrepresented lives through storytelling. Around the same time, a former club promoter named Scott Harrison founded the non-profit organization Charity: Water with the goal of providing clean drinking water to developing countries. Reflecting on our own transformation over the years, we thought we’d check in on Charity: Water and the greater goal of accessible, clean H²O.


Since 2006, the non-profit has funded more than 20,000 water projects from digging wells to installing pipes and BioSand filters. They’ve partnered with 25 different celebrities, companies, and charities to provide clean water access to more than six million people across the globe. Operating in 24 countries, Charity: Water focuses on establishing water sources in rural communities—many of which never had access before.

Thanks to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, Charity: Water, and other organizations like it, much has changed in the landscape of clean water access in recent decades. As of 2015, 91 percent of the global population has access to “improved” water (aka running water free of fecal matter), the World Health Organization reports. That’s a massive jump from 76 percent in 1990. In fact, by 2010, the UN reached its goal to cut the number of people without water access in half.

According to National Geographic, however, there are some discrepancies when you look at rural versus densely populated areas. While urban population access to drinking water has remained relatively unchanged over the years, access for rural areas has greatly improved. This is significant given the fact that, for those who lack access to drinking water, four out of five live in rural communities.

Still, 663 million people currently lack access to clean drinking water, which is a problem because contaminated water kills more than half a million people each year. These numbers will decline as organizations and government officials continue to implement better, more efficient water delivery systems worldwide. So, the good news is that the future looks clean and drinkable. Unfortunately, It isn’t going to be easy, so we’ll have to continue working hard to get there.

Watch Charity: Water’s most recent video below which recaps the organization’s development over the past 10 years and explains what you can do to get involved.

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