This week, World Water Week brought together humanitarian actors to confront global water issues, under the theme, ‘Seeds of Change: Innovative Solutions for a Water-Wise World’. Airlink is joining fellow humanitarian organizations to celebrate World Water Week by highlighting the innovative and life-saving programs we are coordinating alongside our partner network around the world.
Water is an essential and basic resource, yet 2 billion people around the world lack access to clean water. The global water crisis, further exacerbated by the worldwide climate emergency, threatens to increase hunger and food insecurity, disease outbreaks, and displacement. Airlink remains committed to supporting programs focused on increasing access to clean water and providing sanitation and hygiene services and supplies to communities around the world. So far this year, Airlink-supported WASH programs have provided nearly 470,000 people with access to clean water. Here’s a look at some of the life-saving and life-sustaining programs:
Team Rubicon Canada
North America – Canada
From December 2022 to March 2023, the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations did not have access to clean water due to diesel contamination that forced all running water within the community to be cut off. With support from Airlink, Team Rubicon Canada deployed 18 volunteers that delivered 4,914 liters of clean water and 210 food hampers to the community.
Europe – Ukraine
Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, water supplies across the country have been targeted, damaged, and destroyed, leaving over 6 million people without reliable access to safe water. When civilians are forced to use unsafe water sources, the risk of water-borne illnesses drastically increases, which in turn overwhelms an already weak health system. Since February 2022, Airlink has empowered its NGO partners to reach 500,000 people with access to clean water and hygiene supplies.
To provide sustained access to clean water, Airlink coordinated a shipment of water filtration systems and related supplies on behalf of Water Mission. The systems were installed in eastern Ukraine to purify contaminated water sources. GlobalMedic continues to support communities with Family Emergency Kits, containing a household water purification unit and personal hygiene supplies for families displaced by the conflict. To date, Airlink has facilitated the movement of over 30,000 of these kits for distribution to those in need.
Latin America and the Caribbean – US/Mexico Border
Thousands of migrants and asylum seekers live in makeshift refugee camps in Reynosa and Matamoros, just south of the US-Mexico border. In the Senda de Vida migrant camp, poor infrastructure and crowded conditions limit migrants’ ability to access clean water. Airlink has been supporting flights for WASH and engineering experts from Solidarity Engineering, an organization that is working to establish clean water access points across several camps that are home to some 7,000 migrants and asylum seekers.
Latin America and the Caribbean – Haiti
As part of Airlink and USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance Haiti Air Bridge program, Airlink and CARE Haiti dispatched a series of water treatment units for the emergency response in Grand Anse that pivoted to address the rapidly increased numbers of cholera in the communes of Pestel and Jeremie. The water treatment units are increasing access to safe and clean water, providing more than 12,500 people with daily drinking water in communities most affected or at risk of cholera contamination in Grand Anse. This program is part of CARE’s ongoing cholera prevention and WASH assistance emergency programming in Haiti.
Asia and the Pacific – The Philippines
Typhoon Noru made landfall in the Philippines as a category 4 storm on September 25, 2022. Noru forced more than 80,000 people to evacuate their homes and displaced nearly 10,000 people. In partnership with Children International, Airlink coordinated the transportation of 560 LifeStraw Personal Water Filters that were distributed to some of the most affected municipalities in the country. The LifeStraws provided safe drinking water to 85,375 individuals.
Middle East and North Africa – Türkiye
The devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit southern Türkiye and northern Syria earlier this year has left more than 3 million people internally displaced and without access to clean drinking water. NGO partner Water Mission’s responders installed 18 water filtration systems throughout several IDP camps that provided more than 57,000 people with safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. With support from Airlink, Water Mission was able to deploy 8 experts in the first month of the response to Hatay and Gaziantep.
Airlink also worked with Water Survival Box and International Medical Corps to send 1,000 water filters that will deliver up to 53,000 gallons of safe drinking water. The water filters were distributed in IDP camps to decrease the risk of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
IsraAID (Photo credit: Thoko Chikondi)
Sub-Saharan Africa – Malawi
Since March 2022, Malawi has been experiencing the worst cholera outbreak in its recent history, exacerbated by Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which made landfall in February 2023. More than 500,000 people were displaced as a result of the heavy rains and flooding. Displaced individuals are sheltering in overcrowded sites across the country, increasing the risk of cholera and water-borne diseases.
Airlink has provided 19 flights for IsraAID’s emergency response team and WASH experts that have installed and rehabilitated more than 40 boreholes in the Phalombe and Mulanje districts to supply safe drinking water wells, hygiene points, and cholera treatment centers.
Sub-Saharan Africa – Madagascar
One of the most pressing issues in Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is access to clean water and sanitation. Only 54.4% of the population has access to basic water services, leading to a high prevalence of waterborne diseases. Earlier this year, Airlink supported Waves for Water’s clean water pilot program—the first step in installing water filters that will provide clean water to more than 12,500 people in rural areas of Madagascar.