Friday, May 25, 2012

One Drop Foundation

ONE DROP—an initiative of Guy Laliberté, Founder of Cirque du Soleil®—is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that was founded on October 29, 2007, in Montreal, Canada.

In Canada, ONE DROP is a charitable organization that develops integrated, innovative projects with an international scope, in which water plays a central role as a creative force in generating positive, sustainable effects for local and foreign populations and in the fight against poverty. More specifically, ONE DROP Canada, in cooperation with partner Oxfam and others, develops access-to-water and sanitation projects in countries where access to this vital resource is lacking. In addition, ONE DROP is involved in raising awareness among individuals and communities on water-related issues to convince them to mobilize for universal access to water and urge them to adopt sound habits for managing this precious resource for future generations. In closing, ONE DROP Canada is also involved in fundraising—a crucial activity if it is to realize its dream of water for all, today and tomorrow. To this end, the partners of ONE DROP have joined forces with the organization for pursuing this objective.

ONE DROP Canada serves as the organization’s international headquarters. An international committee representing each of the affiliates has been formed, in accordance with the clauses in the affiliation agreement.


There are two water cycles on our planet:

The first moves water from clouds to rain to oceans and back again. The second affects communities without access to water as this drags them deeper into poverty and poor health, which, in turn, makes it more difficult for them to access water.

While the first rests in the hands of nature, the second rests in ours.

Water is an inherent right, yet almost a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion live in areas without sanitation. Worldwide solidarity is the best defence against the monopolization of this invaluable resource.

Water is life, but we continue to pollute and overexploit it, thus threatening the world’s diverse ecosystems and, therefore, access to water today and in the future.

Water brings people together, not only geographically but in the sense that the water crisis provides an opportunity for the developed and developing worlds to work together like never before to pool their resources, knowledge, experience and dreams for a common purpose: to solve the problem and change the way society works.

People like you have come together to join ONE DROP, each one adding a drop towards the solution. Our movement dreams of a day when the people of the world unite to form a powerful river, sharing wealth of all kinds to protect our water and make certain everyone has access to it. ONE DROP believes global solidarity is the key to our dream of water for all, today and tomorrow.


Almost a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion live without sanitation.

A lack of access to water exacerbates poverty. It is an unforgiving cycle: poverty contributes to access problems, which in turn leads to deeper impoverishment. In many cases, the poorest households pay up to ten times more for their water than do more affluent homes. Consider this fact: in Mozambique, the average person uses less than 10 litres of water per day, while an American uses approximately 575 litres a day.

More unsettling are the challenges to the implementation of water crisis solutions, such as a region’s governance, infrastructure and economy. The dry truth is that, while certain areas of the world are in need of access to safe drinking water, many local governments will not—or cannot—allocate the appropriate resources to remedy the situation. As a result, some communities must get their water from sources shared with animals and contaminated with animal waste.

In many countries, ONE DROP backs local organizations and partners who work together to bring money, technology and knowledge to communities in need of access to safe water.


Contaminated or poor-quality water is the second leading cause of infant mortality in the world, killing close to 2 million each year.

Eighty percent of developing-world diseases are related to lack of safe drinking water. Those who fall ill cannot go to school or work and are subsequently dragged deeper into poverty.

Beyond forcing families to sacrifice food money to buy medicine, fighting disease is an enormous drain on a country’s economy as resources that would otherwise be spent on long-term social and development programs are diverted to the more immediate needs of healthcare.

Study after study confirms that serious health issues (such as cancer and birth defects) and water pollution are inextricably linked. The water crisis and the health problems that are tied to them are challenges shared among developed and developing countries.


Too often, women are not included in the decision-making process surrounding water issues, even though the struggle to get water typically falls on their shoulders.

The task of gathering water can take up to four hours a day. Moving as much as 100 kg of water over many kilometres means risking health and personal safety; in certain cases, there is no choice but to go through areas that leave them vulnerable to attack by people or wild animals.

Over 70% of those who collect water under such circumstances are women and girls. As such, the daily chore prevents tens of millions of girls from going to school, and those who do find the opportunity to attend school often leave due to inadequate sanitation facilities.

Women are also more susceptible to waterborne diseases because it is they who care for ill family members and wash clothing in rivers filled with contaminants and bilharzias (blood flukes).

Time lost on collecting water could be better spent on life-improving activities such as going to school or learning a trade. Safe local water pumps can give them more of that precious time. Furthermore, cutting down the duration of a woman’s daily water tasks to one hour puts an extra US $100 into her pocket every year.


While our thirst for water steadily rises, the water supply does not. During the 20th century, the world’s population tripled, but its consumption of water increased sevenfold.

Where we use water:
1. Agriculture (70% of world water use) 
2. Industry (20%)
3. Domestic use (10%)

The planet is buckling under the stress of supplying us with water for the seemingly infinite number of ways we have found to use it. Today, almost 1.4 billion people live in river basin areas where consumption of water exceeds the region’s ability to replenish itself.

Over-consumption leads to a variety of consequences:
  • Rivers run dry before they reach the sea
  • Underground tables dry up
  • The cost of finding water escalates

We live in an era of conflicting priorities when it comes to the use of water. Too often, the planet’s diverse ecosystems—and all the creatures in them, including humans—are not prioritized, protected or preserved. Instead of allocating, distributing and preserving water so everyone is provided for, we drop golf courses in the middle of the desert and we use 2,400 litres of water to make a single hamburger


Water pollution is a scourge of both developed and developing countries. All nations need to take responsibility and help remedy the situation by working together and sharing resources.

The sources of the pollution of our planet’s water are varied and include aggressive agricultural practices, industry and municipal uses. In the United States, 40% of waterways—from rivers to brooks—are unsuitable for fishing, bathing or drinking. In developing countries, 90% of sewage is dumped—untreated—into bodies of water.

Water pollution threatens ecosystems and access to water for our generation and those to come. All over the world, water is becoming less suitable not only for human consumption but also for agricultural and industrial use. It can even cause death, disease and other health issues.

Making water potable is increasingly expensive; what’s more, the costs are often not shared equally, thus exacerbating world poverty levels.

Just one litre of lubricating oil can contaminate one million litres of water. But a single drop of effort can change poor water habits or provide access to safe drinking water.

A Solution

ONE DROP believes the solution to our planet’s water crisis is solidarity. Each one of us—every country and every person—must recognize and act on our responsibility towards water. But how are we to accomplish this?

Our potential for creativity is infinite—unlike the water we must work to preserve. Exploring audacious and inspiring solutions to complex water problems requires that countries share the best of what they have, whether that be knowledge, wealth, experience, materials, technology, dreams or people.

Water is everywhere and essential to all life. The prosperity—and perhaps even the very future—of the human race is at stake; such a level of responsibility requires that we work together. Solidarity is the solution waiting to happen.

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