Erin Huber is the founder and executive director of Drink Local. Drink Tap., Inc.™ a non-profit organization focused on creatively reconnecting people to local water. She inspires people to become better stewards of water through education and awareness in the west and she designs and implements sustainable water projects in the east (Africa). Huber’s passion for safe drinking water is supported by more than a decade of volunteer work and awards, a B.S. of Environmental Science and an M.S. of Urban Studies from Cleveland State University, emphasizing sustainability policy and new economics.
Every time I go to work in the field, I am reminded of how lucky we are in Northeast Ohio and the Great Lakes Region. Rural Ugandans have never seen a faucet, a flush toilet or a big lake. Ironically, Uganda is boarded to the south by one of the Great Lakes of Africa, Lake Victoria. The problem is the quality is not good and the infrastructure is not there to serve the people with this basic life-giving liquid. There is no access to safe, sustainable water. People walk an average of four miles, twice a day to haul unsafe water in buckets. In the process, they risk sickness and death. Young children miss school, work and family time. Animal attacks, physical attacks on young girls, car accidents when crossing main roads are also common. Although this is all very heartbreaking, we know that together, we can make a change.
When I am working in Africa, I bathe in a bucket of cold rainwater, I filter my water and simply, just try to stay healthy. Coming from a place of plenty, I could not imagine being in their shoes for life. This inequality in access to safe water really gets me fired up, and at Drink Local Drink Tap, we are ramping up our goals to bring safe water, sustainably, to people so they can live healthier, dignified lives. This work would not be possible without the generous support of our partners like Kinetico.
Since 2011 in Uganda, we have completed a documentary about our work and water in east Africa, we have received our non-governmental organization status in Uganda, we have finished nine projects in eight locations, we have begun piloting bio-sand filtration for slum areas and for three of the schools we worked with, and we have twelve schools in our project pipeline. We have developed partnerships, shared knowledge and learned many lessons. It’s been an amazing few years.
We dug deeper into the world water crisis in Uganda this winter.
We went back to Uganda this past December to build five of seven projects at rural schools.People in these villages were so happy that their children would have the safe water they need at school. Safe water storage containers where placed in each classroom so students literally have ‘taps’ at their finger tips. Villagers nearby can also partake in water collection from the new sources.
Here is a short clip of the singing that went on everyday as we worked.
Digging deeper into the world water crisis, we continue to try to work in places in Uganda that do not receive much attention from non-profits, are facing extremely dry conditions each year and where contaminated water from far away places is the only option people have. We interviewed twelve new potential school sites, ten of which ended up being eligible for funding. Some of the children from these twelve schools are walking as far as seven kilometers one way to collect water from inland lakes.
We continued to visit our past projects and have learned we are not part of the statistic that "80% of the water projects built in the world fail in the first two years." We, are in fact, bringing hope, health, education, equality and dignity to people. Hearing the stories of how new water sources have changed daily life at the schools we work with is amazing. On follow-up visits, teachers come running to tell me, "No one is sick! No more typhoid! No more diarrhea! No more skin disease! Our girls are safe! The students are in school!" It’s working and it’s a real, sustainable change.
We invite you to become part of the Drink Local Drink Tap story. Invite us to your school or business, start a fundraiser or become a sponsor today. When you support DLDT you are directly helping this life changing work move forward.
Comments or questions? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.