In 2009, Water Mission installed tap stands in this Malawi community after learning that children left home just before midnight each night to get in line at the nearest water source in order to have water the following day.
The first employee when his parents created Water Mission in 2001, George Greene IV stepped into his father’s shoes as CEO last year. Dr. George Greene III continues to guide the organization’s strategic direction as executive chair.
In the wake of 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, Water Mission constructed 40 water treatment systems to bring clean, safe water to Haiti. Knowing the country rests on a seismic fault, engineers designed the structures to withstand future earthquakes, such as the 7.2-magnitude quake that hit late this summer. Of the 40 projects, 38 remain functional.
Corporate sponsors, such as Pentair, Grundfos, and OxyChem, provide supplies to build water treatment stations like this one in Honduras. Forty percent of the nonprofit’s income comes from strategic partners with numerous corporations and nongovermental organizations.
In the Bidibidi settlement of Northern Uganda, where refugees live in exile for 10 or more years, solar-powered pumping systems provide a clean water solution that is both financially sustainable and operationally resilient.
Will Furlong, regional director of Water Mission’s program in Tanzania, attributes the sustainability of their systems to the commitment and hard work of the people. “When we get to the end of a project, we can say, ‘Look what you have done.’ There’s a sense of ownership, pride, accomplishment, and dignity,” he says.
By taking the first sip, Molly Greene assured residents in Honduras that water from the River of Death was safe to drink after being treated.
Building Solutions: At Water Mission’s North Charleston warehouse, volunteers man assembly line stations to carefully construct the nonprofit’s signature Living Water Treatment Systems.
A display explains how the basic system works to clean water that’s pumped from nearby rivers, down from higher ground, or up from the ground, depending on the community’s landscape.
Some of the systems use reverse osmosis to remove any salt and sediment from the water and then add chlorine to eliminate bacteria, producing up to 10,000 gallons of safe drinking water a day.
Volunteers also package completed systems and maintenance parts for shipment around the world.
Water Mission has earned four stars from Charity Navigator for 14 consecutive years and two Sustainability Leadership Awards from the American Chemistry Council (2020). Dr. George and Molly Greene were also the first Americans to receive the SolarWorld Einstein Award (2012).
Steel cages protect the systems during transport and in the field in disaster response situations, while concrete structures house permanent systems in partner communities (represented by the flags flying in the warehouse).
To address the urgent global water crisis, Water Mission’s day-to-day activity involves constructing water treatment systems, tap stands, sanitary latrines, and handwashing stations across East Africa, Indonesia, and Latin America through nine permanent country programs.
In making water safe and accessible, the nonprofit underscores the need for “community buy-in,” wherein villagers actively help set up safe water solutions, taking ownership of the project from conception through construction and into regular operation and maintenance.
Community representatives undergo training to manage the completed Living Water Treatment System independently. Water Mission remotely monitors each system so that, in the event of a problem, country directors can help local leaders troubleshoot.
Paying roughly a penny a day, community members invest in a municipal bank account. These savings fund maintenance as well as future expansion of the water system when the community begins to thrive, a natural result of the economic and educational shifts that come with safe water and sanitation.
The Mobile Discovery Center: The first exhibit inside the unit, Water Is Life, illustrates its three states—liquid, gas, and solid.
Outdoor pavilions offer hands-on activities for learning about water testing, solar-powered systems, and water treatment.
Providing clean, safe drinking water to a child leads to a profound ripple effect, including better health and improved opportunities for education.
The Walk for Water 2022 fundraiser will take place on March 26.
Molly and George Greene founded the nonprofit in 2001 with the mission that all people have access to safe drinking water