The world hasn’t been thinking about sustainable water access for the rural poor for as long as you might think. In 1990, when Living Water was founded, the UN Millennium Development Goal for water wouldn’t be signed for another 10 years. For a billion people at that time, safe drinking water was a dream.
Back then, we all talked about “village-level operation and maintenance”—if you train the community right, they’ll keep their well working. But wells can last years without breaking down, people move, trainees forget and tools can vanish. Many other strategies have been tested over years, and the sector has yet to find a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Why would there be one? Cultures, supply-chains, costs, circumstances and experiences vary as much as the cultures in the 24 countries we serve.
Over the years, the growing water sector serving the rural poor has searched for an easy “in and out” sustainability answer. Over time, Living Water has come to understand that communities need ongoing technical and management support from governments, businesses, and organizations like ours to oversee the work of ensuring that water flows for life. We’ve come to embrace that our unique focus on water and our commitment to long-term solutions are our strengths. That oversight costs money, though, and it’s worth it—precisely because our aim is to demonstrate and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.