March 22 is World Water Day. From drought to sanitation, the yearly event covers it all. Moreover, it's the perfect global platform for organizations like Surfrider and Waves for Water (W4W) to bring awareness to their causes and get some work done.
"World Water Day is already happening, all we are doing is coordinating efforts to make it equally about action as it is about awareness, raising the stakes and maximizing the impact," said W4W's founder, Jon Rose.
For tomorrow, W4W united some big names to bring attention to the cause. Their posse of Clean Water Couriers includes Carissa Moore, Rob Machado, Ace Buchan, Conner Coffin, Mikey DeTemple, and others. These athletes and advocates are spreading across the globe to bring clean freshwater access to tens of thousands of people on this one day.
They've been divided into teams, each one heading to one of five countries: Brazil, Nicaragua, Liberia, Indonesia, and Haiti. They're bringing a combined 1,000 water filtration systems to distribute, which have the potential to give 100,000 people clean water on this single day. It'll be the largest water relief effort in history.
Each destination has different connections with and needs from W4W. In Brazil, the organization has been working with a local advertising agency to create water accessibility programs that help thousands. Nicaragua is a surf tourism destination familiar to surfers, yet still it is the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The needs there, Rose admits, "are as bad as it gets." In war-torn Liberia, the fighting has subsided but the wreckage left from years of strife has created an entirely new set of problems—famine, lack of shelter, and poor water quality. Rose admits that they can't solve all of Liberia's problems, but hope to help address one and take a big step in the right direction.
The other two locations, Indonesia and Haiti, have deep roots with W4W. Indonesia was the birthplace of the organization. Rose's first water relief effort was on the heels of Sumatra's Padang earthquake in 2009. And Haiti is where W4W really grew up. They've been consistently sending filtration systems to the country since the 2010 earthquake, and have been on the frontlines of the cholera epidemic there for the last three years.
Tomorrow, Rose and his team will be on the ground in Haiti, and though it's a homecoming of sorts for the founder, Rose says he's most looking forward "to knowing that there are simultaneous actions taking place all across the globe that we coordinated, and that's a really special moment for us, as individuals and as an organization."
Ultimately the impact of World Water Day will be considerable, but Rose hopes to show that the global water crisis is solvable and that all it takes is a little coordinated action to create a huge impact.
"It is truly one of the issues in the world where anyone can make a very real and tangible impact themselves," urges Rose. "All the pieces of the puzzle to solve this crisis exist, we just need people to understand that and do their part."
The best way to get involved? Check out W4W's other Clean Water Couriers.