The Transformative Power of Clean Water: MAP International x Liquid I.V. Partner on the Safe Water Access

The Transformative Power of Clean Water: MAP International x Liquid I.V. Partner to Address Safe Water Access

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March 20, 2024 · 5 minutes
Hydration Multiplier
Hydration Multiplier

March 22 is World Water Day, which is an important inflection point in the year to talk about the impact of water on people and the planet. Water is elemental to our biology, it powers us as individuals, and is the source of life that keeps us alive, focused, and healthy.  

At Liquid I.V., we believe equitable access to clean and abundant water is the foundation of a healthier world. But the fact remains that two billion people across the globe do not have access to safe and clean drinking water—and two million of that number live in the United States. To reach our goal of providing 2 million people with increased access to clean water by 2026, we prioritize partnerships with leading water, humanitarian, and community-based organizations to fund and foster innovative solutions to help communities protect both their water and their futures. Our Impact work happens on both a domestic and global scale—whether it be the Appalachia Water Project in the United States, participating in local cleanups alongside Friends of the LA River, or partnering with experts in the NGO space at an international level. 

One of those partnerships includes MAP International, who has distributed 14.5 million serving sticks of Liquid I.V. since our partnership began four years ago. Our work with MAP International began with hydration aid, a key pillar of our impact initiatives as Liquid I.V.’s Hydration Multiplier product is an Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS), which is used to treat dehydration caused by illness and natural disasters. While MAP International distributes ORS in many countries, they have seen a consistent need for hydration aid in Liberia.

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This West African country is steeped in tradition and a vibrant culture, rich in lush rainforests and beaches, as well as marketplaces and a growing tourism sector. Liberia is also experiencing a clean water crisis, despite having some of the heaviest rainfall averages in the world. In 2022, we began to reimagine our partnership with MAP International beyond immediate hydration aid~.~ and expanded support to their community-led clean water projects. Our $500,000 grant supports a local NGO partner ACTS (Actions Transforming Lives) who is working alongside Liberian communities to provide access to clean water. MAP and ACTS have been engaged in the Liberian water crisis for years. According to Thomas Borwah, Executive Director of ACTS, they have already supported 20,000 people and brought 45+ handpumps to some of the most remote communities, where access to installing this infrastructure imposes a challenge in and of itself.  

###A Challenging Reality    

Liberia records 118 inches of rainfall on average every year, however much of the water ends up contaminated due to stagnation. When water sits without movement, the surface is susceptible to debris, bacteria, and can cause waterborne illnesses. For many people in Liberia, the reality is the only available water to drink has a high risk of contaminants but there is often no third alternative between dehydration or illness.   

"Much of the water [in Liberia] sits in stagnant ponds and slow-moving creeks,” Sean Lavin, VP of Impact says. “90% of people in Liberia do not have access to safe drinking water according to MAP International.” 

"We have sufficient water, but water is not sufficient if it is not safe for drinking. While we have enough rainfall, we don't have the facilities to transform the water into safe drinking water that our people can use,” Borwah says.  

The process for getting water often includes women and children traveling for hours, disrupting opportunities for education and building livelihoods. If wells do exist, they’ve been dug 40 feet into the ground and require someone to propel down in a strenuous fashion to retrieve the water. These options are ultimately unsafe, and the water is primed for disease.

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###Access to Safe Hydration 

Our partners at MAP International are actively installing 30+ hand pump wells in Liberian communities including Fenutoli and Doe Town, as well as installing 15+ hand and solar pumps and providing 1,000 water filters in the neighboring country of Burkina Faso. The process of digging 40 feet to create the wells still exists, but by building the hand pump system, the steps for obtaining water become easier. These communities currently lack infrastructure such as paved roads which limit their accessibility for aid, but hand pump wells providing clean and safe drinking water are a foundational step toward the elimination of making the choice between dehydration and illness. In communities like Suakoko, where hand pump wells have already been installed for over a decade, the quality-of-life improvements have been tremendous.

“[In 2023], it was the first Impact trip aligned with Liquid I.V.’s shifted Impact focus. Rather than focusing just on product donations and where our sticks of Liquid I.V. were going, we primarily focused on creating durable impact and initiatives that empower communities. It was important to learn and experience how our grants helped MAP International further their work to dig wells and install hand and solar pumps to increase clean water access in Liberia,” Lavin says.

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Far beyond convenience, the accessibility to clean water has created a life-changing ripple effect in the Suakoko community. Within the community there is a fishery, a piggery, a school with another in the process of being built, a community church, kitchens, and operating toilets. Women and children can shift their focus from obtaining water to attending school, seeking a vocation, providing for their families, and beyond.  

“Because of companies like Liquid I.V. and partnerships like this, lasting and sustainable change can occur. Access to clean water and quality medicine, like the Liquid IV sticks, is a powerful combination of saving and transforming lives,” Steve Stirling, MAP International President and CEO, says. 

The difference in the water quality from the hand pumps and the water from the creeks is striking. The wells and hand pumps are closed loop set ups, which means when they’re functioning properly, they’re sanitary systems. That means the water coming from the hand pumps is actually safe to drink. 

In contrast, communities where there is unsafe drinking water, infection, disease, diarrheal diseases, childhood malnutrition, and loss of opportunities are widespread and abundant.

###"The First Step to Transformation” 

“At the end of the day, seeing how one community lived without clean water access, compared to a community with clean water gave us a tangible understanding of the impact that Liquid I.V.’s purpose-driven initiatives have on the communities we reach,” Lavin says.  

“This is just the beginning of our dedication to the work of expanding clean water access. Our goal is to do even more work to create a more resilient, healthy world with wider availability to clean water.”

“[When the pumps were installed], the members of these communities started to talk with us about ‘What next?’ Maybe a school. Maybe a clinic. Maybe an income-generating project. What these conversations represented was something so much more. They represented hope,” Allison said. “When their basic need for clean and safe water was met, they could dream about bigger and better things. They could dream about what next. Bringing in water is the first step to transforming a life and to transforming a community,” Brooke Allison, the program manager of MAP International, says.

Along with Liberia, in Burkina Faso, the transformations made through water access have a ripple effect of positive change. This goes beyond drinking water. Community members shared with us how 1,000 water filters, specifically water access in proximity to community gardens, support women and girls. They use less of their time in search of water and in turn, serve as a haven in multiple ways. “It’s really a huge relief for us to see that we now have water next to our gardens. This will help protect our girls from gender-based violence,” a community member says. “Thank you very much for this beautiful gift you gave us.” 

With all that said, the work continues and the journey to transformation through water access is a process still in the developing stages.  

“We need technical support, we need financial support, and we need every kind of support especially to our rural community dwellers,” Borwah says. “We will continue to cherish this partnership [with Liquid I.V. and MAP International] and cement the partnership to see how we can help our people improve their conditions and lives.” 

To learn more about our Impact initiatives and how to become engaged with this work, click here.

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