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PART II: What Makes Blood:Water Different


In a two-part blog, Blood:Water founder and senior development officer, Dan Haseltine, shares what makes Blood:Water so unique in the way it works. If you missed the first part, you can read it here.



I know what you are thinking. What I’m getting at is the old, “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime,” philosophy. But I want to take it quite a bit further.

I don’t want Blood:Water to be about teaching a man to fish. I want Blood:Water to help a man know that if he wants to develop a new fishing method, or invent a new way of breeding fish with more protein and reproductive capacity, or design a new fishing rod or effective lure, that he has what it takes to do it. I want to help cultivate the imagination and dignity of a person “stuck” listening to the voice of poverty. I want the very presence of Blood:Water in an African community to affirm the dignity and potential of the people in that community.


The Blood:Water approach to organizational strengthening and capacity building of our African partners is designed to uncover what is already in that community. When you drill down, you eventually reach clean water. That water has always been there; it has just been covered. This is true of African innovation, creativity, opportunity, and ingenuity. By coming alongside our partners, we help them achieve a level of proficiency as an organization, which allows them to have the greatest impact in their work to bring clean water to their communities. This kind of affirmation of dignity is what fuels the imagination for what is possible.

I also recall the feelings tied to those moments when someone said, “Let me get out of the way. Here, you do it.” I remember walking taller after someone put faith in me and gave me a chance to prove myself worthy.

If you have not heard the songs of joy and celebration that are sung around a clean water well when it first begins to flow, then you may not know how loud it gets. You may not know how long the singing can go. It is loud enough and constant enough to drown out the low hum of poverty.

So if you want to know what makes Blood:Water different from other water or health-related organizations, it is the way we offer dignity through partnerships. It is the way we serve our African partners and grow their capacity. It is in the way our African partners serve the communities where they live and work. And it is the way we say, “Here, you can do this…”

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