Have you ever spent a day without water? And by that, I mean no water to drink, no water to cook, no water to clean and definitely no water to take a shower.
Could you imagine how it would feel to live like this for 24 hours? Well, this is how the life of more than 600 million people is on a daily basis. Can you guess what impact this has on their lives?
Not having clean water means walking miles and miles every day to collect it from open-air sources that are often contaminated with bacteria. Contaminated water, though, is what spreads diseases causing millions of deaths, especially among children.
Logically, this whole situation makes it hard for people to stay clean, which can only worsen their health problems. As a result, people with water-related diseases fill about half of the world’s hospital beds at any given moment.
On top of this, education and women’s empowerment are hindered as children and women are the main ones responsible for water collection. They spend hours each day fetching water from distant sources with the direct consequence of not having time for school or work.
As you can see, access to water has a huge impact on the world. An impact that will compound, day in and day out, into every aspect of life. So how can Tech, which seems so distant, help people get access to clean water?
Luckily for us, Tech comes in many shapes, and you will now see a few examples of it.
If we want to help people get access to safe water, we have to invest in it. And to invest, we have to raise money. An instance of this type of Tech for Good is Elliot for Water.
Elliot for Water is a search engine like Google, but 60% of its profit goes to financing clean water projects. The way it works is very simple: people search the web, their clicks generate money, and part of that money goes to water. In this instance, Tech is used to allow people to do good by searching the web.
So far, Elliot for Water has donated 5 million litres of water to Ndambe, a small village of 341 people located 60km away from the capital of Guinea-Bissau. The community is now using water to produce their own vegetables, sell the leftovers, and make money to pay for school fees, clothes, and extra food.
Water Purification & Desalination
We saw how the quality of water has a huge impact on people’s health. Tech has made it possible for people to purify water or, in the case of desalination, collect it from the sea.
Purification systems remove germs and bacteria from water, making it safe to drink. In emergency cases, this technology is perfect as it can be portable and used with simple filters. You can picture this as a bottle of water able to block out germs.
A more long-term way to purify water, on the other hand, is sand filtering. Sand filters act like a barrier and keep the dirt from going through. As the water passes through the layers of sand, it gets cleaner and cleaner. This process improves the quality of the water and makes it safer for people to drink.
Countries like the Emirates, though, have the opposite problem. They have plenty of clean water, but it’s mostly in the sea. In these situations, the best way Tech can help is through desalination.
The principle behind it is very simple. We heat the water, let it turn into steam, cool it down, and collect the freshwater that forms from it. This works because water is lighter than impurities, thus pure water goes up and the salt stays down.
The oldest and most special technology of them all is Mother Nature. Several technologies now use the power of nature to literally create water out of the air. The most famous one of them all is the Warka Tower.
This artificial tree is able to collect water from the atmosphere. It does so by using gravity, condensation and evaporation. It is a very ingenious way to provide a water source for rural populations.
The Warka Tower, and the technologies similar to it, use a principle called the dew point. The dew point is the temperature at which air condenses out of the air and becomes water. What the Tower then does, is collect this water through a net and make it available for the village. In a way, this is a desalination-like process, but from the air.
As always, we had to leave the dessert for the end. FinTech is the most unintuitive method to provide people with water, but it’s also the most impactful one.
We stated that 600 million people don’t have water. What they actually lack is an affordable option to get water. For most of these people, in fact, water is a luxury they can’t afford as it costs them 10 to 15 times more than the middle class.
Would you ever pay £15 for a bottle of water? If we want to help, we have to provide the world with fair options to get water, and one of the best ways to do that is through FinTech and micro-credit.
A beautiful example of how FinTech can lead the impact is Water.org, the charity of Matt Damon. They gave water to 55 million people since micro-loans became their main activity.
Once upon a time, giving water to every person in the world seemed like a stretch. Today, with the rise of new technologies and social entrepreneurship, it’s a goal we can reach.
Elliot for Water is the Impact Challenge (Water Crisis) co-partner of the Super Connect for Good Competition 2023 powered by Empact Ventures and Hays supported by Global Good. The global Tech for Good initiative is now open for applications here to tech startups and scaleups in the UK, Ireland, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand
Elliot for Water is based in France (Paris) and is currently part of the Super Connect Programme (powered by Empact Ventures) receiving ongoing super connections to potential partners, clients and funders around the world.