My name is Justin Walker and I am the president of Water Projects International. WPI is a 501c3 nonprofit humanitarian aid organization that is based out of Atlanta, Georgia that works around the world to provide the impoverished with clean water sources. From the beginning of 2006 to late 2007 I worked with a humanitarian aid organization in the Middle East. During my time spent working with this organization, I saw one common unmet need in every “third world” country that I visited. This “unmet need” was the access to clean water and proper sanitation.
Sample of drinking water taken from water source in the
community of "San Eloy" in northern Peru.
It was from this unmet need that I founded Water Projects International in the spring of 2008, and began work in the country of Peru in South America. I have just recently returned to the USA after living in Peru since April of 2008. Due to a very corrupt government in Peru, I have been working this entire time to establish WPI within the country which will allow our organization to import necessary water well drilling equipment into the country so that we may begin projects in Peru.
Justin Walker in the trash dump for the city of Trujillo in Peru.
Hundreds of people unfortunately call this home.
Peru is home to one of the driest deserts in the world, second only to that of the Atacama desert found in Chile, just directly south of Peru. This makes water well drilling an even greater challenge due to the depth of the water table. The deep water table has left this region of the world untouched by the common clean water NGO’s (Non-Government Organization) that normally only have a well drilling depth capacity of approximately 150 linear feet. Thus I have been working with the Peruvian government for nearly two years to get the clearance to bring in well drilling equipment which will allow WPI to drill for the water that is found at these greater depths.
Picture of the R-77 Magnum Drill rig that WPI plans
purchase and send to Peru this summer!
During our time spent in Peru we have not only been working with the government to get our NGO status (Non-Government Organization) in the country, but we have also been working closely with the communities where we first want to drill water wells. In all of these locations, locals are walking at least 2 hours round trip every day to get their daily water needs and some are in the upwards of 7 hour trips. WPI feels that it is necessary to create lasting relationships with each and every location that work in, to ensure proper education within the community This “education” leads to longer productivity of the projects that we establish in the community and allows each and every person living there to understand how access to clean water and sanitation is life’s most basic and necessary need.
A child that attends a daycare where WPI installed a 5,000 liter water system.
When Water Projects International visits a location to propose a specific project, we first spend time with each community to explain what we are going to do and how this project will benefit each and every person living in that location.
I have never had a community (the people that is) no matter what country in the world that has not welcomed me with open arms to hear more about clean water and the possibility of installing a clean water well.
Young boy that can't wait to try out the new Ceramic
water filter that WPI gave to his family
We know that if everyone listens to what we teach and if they go just that little extra step to care for their water sources and use proper sanitation methods that disease and sickness throughout the community will be greatly decreased. Children under the age of five are the most vulnerable to diseases found in unclean water; and after the installation of one of our clean water projects, illness in children will drop on average by a staggering 75 percent!
Water Projects International utilizes local labor to complete our projects, meaning that we can keep our costs in travel and administration to a very low number allowing for more lives to be changed. Due to my extended stay in Peru, I have not been in the USA for some time now and WPI’s greatest need is for venues in which to have events that promote what we are doing. WPI is a grass roots organization and there is nothing special about me or the people that work with us, we are just normal people working around the world to change the lives of those in need.
When working with government officials that do not see "eye to eye" with our efforts, I find that there are two reasons that they take this approach to our efforts.
One is that they have worked with nonprofit organizations in the past and have had a bad experience. Unfortunately this makes work for us difficult as we have to earn the trust and respect of these officials who have already had these bad experiences.
Second and normally the main reason is that unfortunately the majority of government officials are captured in the net of corruption that runs deep especially in Peru. We find that these officials are eager to make as much of a profit as possible, even if it means to sacrifice care of the people.
What I try to do when working with these officials, is to explain to them how looking after the people and caring for them will in turn raise rapport for their office, and therefore make things even better for them in the long run. Everyone deserves to have clean water no matter who they are. Look at it this way; when a person has clean drinking water that is not a days walk from their home, they will be much more likely to respect the government officials that have approved the projects to get that water to them. So I find that our best strategy is to work to educate and encourage these officials in a way that shows caring for those of whom they are governing.
With all of this said, there are situations that are all too common where nothing can be done to work with the approval and we must go into a location without the approval of government officials. Unfortunately this method is often the fastest and most cost effective, but in extreme situations, our work can be stopped and we can be barred from ever working in that area again. Due to the remote locations that WPI does most of its work, we find that we can do most of our projects without the officials ever becoming involved and this many times is the best of all situations.
Small boy outside his home in the desert of coastal Peru.
The number one inspiration that keeps me moving through the tough times is know that there are over 1 BILLION people today that do not have access to clean drinking water. I have lived all my life with the ability to turn on the tap and drink the water because I was blessed to live in a country where clean water is not an issue. But when I think of all the many people around the world that do not have this luxury (and it is a luxury, trust me after living in the Middle East and South America for several years, you learn just how luxurious clean tap water really is) I can only bring myself to do one thing, and that is to continue moving forward doing whatever humanly possible to provide clean water to as many people worldwide as I possibly can.
Foir more information, please visit our website at www.waterprojectsinternational.com.
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