March 8th, 2017

Help Kenyans Access Clean Water

Help Kenyans Access Clean Water

Water is essential to life, yet, in many areas of the world, obtaining drinkable water is either very hard or sometimes even impossible. In fact, UNICEF (the United Nations International Children's Fund non-profit organization) estimates that 663 million people around the world lack access to clean, safe water. To put that number in perspective, that’s one in ten people on Earth and double the population of the U.S.

 

For many people on this planet, thousands of hours of their lives revolve around the procurement of water. While some villages are built near a water source, others share a water spigot that may be located across distant fields or down long roads. Often, families lack proper containment for their water and resort to using jerry cans that are contaminated by the toxic materials that they previously held.

When I traveled throughout Kenya, my primary goal was to visit a social enterprise near the Maasai Mara National Reserve—an area of the country where tourists flock. While some tourists visit Kenya for the amazing interactions with nature (think world-class safaris), I was there to learn about the challenges faced by local entrepreneurs addressing social issues. Throughout my month in Kenya, I aimed to visit a mix of both underdeveloped and developed regions, traveling from the busy streets of Nairobi to the dusty ochre roads of rural Kenya. I found inspiring local entrepreneurs who were addressing social issues and so much optimism for a bright future. But there are hardships, too. It was during a visit to a rural health clinic in a remote region of Kenya that I began to glimpse the unique challenges facing rural communities in water-scarce regions of the world.

Each day while I walked to the clinic, I passed women and children making the daily walk to retrieve water, yellow jerry cans in hand. During my time in the country’s rural communities, the tremendous effort of obtaining water was a commonality.

But the good news is: Change is coming. Addressing water access and sanitation is one of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, and many companies are breaking the mold to create innovative and lasting solutions.

Toward that end, Eagle Creek has partnered with packH2O for another year of its joint “Buy a Bag, Change a Life” campaign. Last year, the program was a huge success and the two companies are enthused to once again empower consumers to increase the social impact of their money spent.

During the month of March, in 2017, each time a piece of luggage is purchased, Eagle Creek will donate funds to packH2O, and then packH2O will provide a water backpack to a Kenyan family or individual in need. In other words, for every backpack, duffel, or suitcase sold—basically, everything on its website except packing organizers and travel accessories—Eagle Creek will donate $8.25 to packH2O for this specific purpose. It’s estimated that around 2,000 water backpacks will be donated. That’s enough to transform the health and wellness of an entire village in Kenya, the chosen location for this year’s campaign.

And far from an ordinary backpack, packH2O’s water backpacks are ergonomically designed to ease the burden of transporting water, while also reducing and eradicating waterborne illnesses through solar disinfection technology that is incorporated directly into the pack.

The goal is to start construction of the water backpacks in April and have them completed and deployed into the field by May. Students from Ohio State University will be on the ground in Kenya, along with representatives from both packH2O and Eagle Creek, to hand out the water backpacks, show people how to use them, and provide education on the importance of clean water.

With proceeds going to such a great cause this month, it's the perfect time to spoil yourself with new Eagle Creek gear. It’s a great way to make a difference and buy some amazing luggage in the process.

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

Join the Movement: Let's Protect Our Environment

How to Help the Earth While Traveling

Travel: How Eagle Creek Makes a Global Impact

by Shannon ODonnell

Shannon O'Donnell is a long-term traveler who has been on the road since 2008; she travels slowly and supports grassroots tourism along the way. She is an acclaimed travel speaker and works with universities and businesses all over the U.S. to talk about supporting developing countries.

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