Lack of clean water, secure food sources, sanitation, and hygiene has resulted in poverty, malnutrition, and disease for more than 540 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the United States, 2.3 million people, almost all in rural areas, lack safe water access. One in four Native Americans faces food insecurity. An Ohio State University-led consortium has piloted a successful integrated community development model to address these pervasive problems.
The Water for Rural Development (W4RD) approach seeds economic empowerment and promotes health and wellness at the local level by creating a nexus between water (solar-powered wells), food (agricultural extension), and better health (sanitation and hygiene at schools and clinics). The model builds on community assets and strengthens peer-to-peer networks while leveraging smart monitoring technology. We aim to scale up this approach to reach one million people, from 75,000, in Tanzania and one million people on tribal lands across North America.
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Data from the original W4RD pilot sites in rural Tanzania show that the work has provided reliable access to safe water for 10,000 people and reduced severe food insecurity to 7 percent—from the earlier 86 percent—of the communities' populations. An additional 75,000 people have new and/or improved reliable access to safe water in rural Tanzania. As a result of our work in Tanzania, we have built new partnerships to expand this community development model and launched an initiative in partnership with the Navajo Nation to bring improved safe water access, sustainable agriculture and health improvements to 75,000 residents of the Navajo reservation.