Reading about World Water Week in Stockholm, I remembered one of my all-time favorite Treehugger articles: Ryan’s Well – It’s Not Who You Are, it’s What You Do. When 6 year-old, Canadian born, Ryan Hreljac found out that in other parts of the world people were dying for lack of clean water, he thought that he should personally do something about it. Thinking that a well in an under-developed country cost around 70 USD, Ryan badgered his parents to give him paying chores until he dutifully saved the amount needed to give a far away community a source of clean water.
Cheerfully presenting his hard-earned savings he discovered that seventy dollars was the cost of the pump – the pump and the well together would cost around 2,000. We´re talking about a six-year-old and a six-year old´s concept of personal goals and world realities. However, the bad news did not faze Ryan. His indignation that children died daily for lack of water was too strong. He continued to save money, tapped his friends and community and a well was dug in Northern Angola. To date, Ryan, now within the framework of Ryan´s Well Foundation, has raised more than a million dollars and built 277 wells in ten countries.
Trevor Field, a retired South African advertising executive, was also deeply affected by the way the appalling lack of water of local clean supply affected the lives of women and children in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. He teamed up with an inventor to design a children’s merry-go-round that pumps clean, safe drinking water from a well every time the children set it spinning. A “roundabout” costs around $14,000 to built and install. Field’s “Playpump International” caught the attention of the World Bank and the worldwide media. The playpump was featured on PBS´s “Frontline” and has resulted in one of the most inspiring and productive threads that I have ever seen in Internet.
The British Co-op Group has joined the effort, promising to donate a percentage of every sale of their “One” bottled water to the Playpump campaign. According to Debbie Robinson, general manager of retail brands at the Co-operative Group, for every 30,000 bottles of One water sold, the Co-op will be able to fund a well and merry-go-round pumping system. The product campaign began in April of this year in all 3,200 Co-op stores in the U.K.
It turns out that nobody is too young, or too old, or too far away to contribute to the solution to the world´s water crisis. Creativity+ Commitment + Ethics is the formula. Any more good ideas out there?