In many parts of the United States, we tend to take clean water for granted. Turn on the taps and it’s there—for drinking, washing, cooking—you name it. But ask anyone who lives in a region impacted by drought or contamination, and they’ll tell you—lack of access to clean, safe water causes BIG problems. “Access to clean drinking water is one of the world’s largest current health crises,” says Matt Thompson, Marketing Director and Country Walkers Sustainability Committee member. “Water-borne illnesses are one of the leading causes of mortality for children worldwide. On a global scale, the percentage of people who have access to clean water is shockingly low.”
Contamination and disease are among the biggest health issues caused by lack of clean water. Drinking contaminated water can lead to giardia, dysentery, and cholera—and these maladies cause widespread problems in communities they affect. Lack of clean water also presents sanitation challenges—a particularly acute issue in rural health care centers and mobile surgical units where good hygiene is an essential component of positive health outcomes.
Giving the Gift of Clean Water
To help combat this vital (and often overlooked) issue, Country Walkers is pleased to announce we’ve made a holiday gift to Wine to Water—an international organization that provides access to clean drinking water and emergency supplies in places where they’re needed most. Wine to Water works to educate people in water-challenged regions about sanitation best practices and water filter build techniques. Their Water4Schools program provides education and training for young people—increasing awareness of sanitation and clean water management strategies to build a strong future for local communities.
Environmental Sustainability at Country Walkers
Here at Country Walkers, environmental sustainability is one of our core values. In our main office in Williston, Vermont, our team of dedicated Sustainability Committee members works hard to develop innovative ideas to improve environmental sustainability—both on tour, at home, and around the world. Every Country Walkers booking contributes a small amount to a fund supporting environmental sustainability efforts. “It’s a great program,” says Matt. “Our local guides get involved as well—bringing forward ideas to help support their communities.” For example, Country Walkers supports the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative—funding development of wildlife bridges in the region surrounding our Montana: Glacier National Park Guided Tour. This effort connects and protects wildlife habitats from Yellowstone National Park in the United States through the Canadian Yukon territory.
In addition to regional sustainability, Country Walkers also contributes to global sustainability initiatives. In 2017, Wine to Water Founder and President Doc Hendley was a guest speaker at a Country Walkers event, planting the seed for future collaboration. “Wine to Water is doing great work around the world, and they have good alignment with Country Walkers values,” says Matt. “In addition to local community support, we wanted to do something on a global scale where our contributions would make the most impact.” The ongoing collaboration between Country Walkers and Wine to Water has supported efforts in Ukraine, Nepal, and other regions experiencing scarcity of clean water and sanitation resources.
Promoting Healthy Communities Through Access to Clean Water
With Country Walkers support, Wine to Water’s current initiative in Ichhya Kamana, Nepal works to deliver clean water access to seven extremely remote communities. In Ichhya Kamana, 679 households are deprived of basic water and sanitation facilities. Ichhya’s severe topography along the ridges of the Mahabharat mountain range down to the Trishuli River Basin makes accessing clean water a difficult, time-consuming journey. The majority of the population are Chepang—an indigenous Tibeto-Burman ethnic group, often called the poorest of Nepal’s poor. In these villages, 226 houses will each receive one clean water tap—impacting 1,153 lives by decreasing water-borne illnesses. This will have the added impact of increasing school attendance, particularly for girls, as absenteeism from water-borne illnesses decreases and girls no longer spend time carrying water long distances.
We’re excited to support this important work—and would like to thank everyone who made it possible. Warm wishes for a safe and healthy New Year to one and all!