We are thrilled to announce that Blood:Water has been named a Top 50 Finalist for the 2021 Classy Awards! This year, 13 awards will be distributed across four categories: Social Innovation, Adapt & Overcome, Lifetime Achievement, and People’s Choice. We invite you to vote for us in the People’s Choice category before voting closes on June 25th, and please join us in thanking Classy for their recognition of ours and our partners’ work and efforts to keep hope up for organizations like us!
Classy, an online fundraising software for nonprofits, launched the awards in 2009 to recognize the achievements of nonprofits and social enterprises operating in our communities and around the world, and to take notice of the new strategies, creative thinking, and ideas that confront some of the biggest issues our world faces today. This year, we are honored to share that our program, Partnerships for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Solutions to Sustainably Save and Change Lives, has been recognized for its contribution in addressing the pervasive water and health crises in sub-Saharan Africa!
Nearly 325 million people still do not have access to clean water in sub-Saharan Africa. They walk an average of 30 minutes per day to retrieve water from an often inadequate and contaminated source that causes thousands to die every year worldwide as a result of easily treatable and preventable waterborne illnesses. Blood:Water recognizes these harrowing statistics and has developed a specific strategy to combat this tragic loss of life.
You’re probably familiar with our WASH program, which is the program that Classy chose us as finalists for. Communities in sub-Saharan Africa need all three areas of WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) in order for a program to be a success. Along with clean water, sanitation is vital to preventing recontamination of a water point and waterborne illness. Improved hygienic practices are key, driven by interventions at household and community levels, as well as through trainings, committees, and mobilization of community health workers.
For a water point’s long-term success, we are committed to ensuring WASH standards are applied throughout programming. Our partners form water committees to promote health and catalyze transformation in their communities. Because these heroes spread this vital information and get their communities involved, this combination of health practices will change lives for generations to come.
Through carefully selected partnerships with grassroots African organizations, Blood:Water offers financial, operational, and organizational support to local African leaders in their own communities as they engage in the fight against the water and HIV/AIDS crises through a wide range of technologies which they optimize through their local context.
Through allowing the leaders, those that intimately know both the challenges faced by their communities and the solutions that best work, to choose the most effective medium to provide water and aiding them in educating others about healthy living, the focus remains on empowering those from within the community to spark and perpetuate positive change.
Our partners had to adapt their programming quickly for COVID-19, halting some group-centered activities in favor of spreading information for proper life-saving hygiene practices. They went door-to-door with soap and sanitation supplies, broadcasted safety protocols in local languages, and set up public sanitizing stations. WASH solutions became more relevant than ever before, and our partners found ways to ensure that their beneficiaries were receiving the services they needed.
Before COVID-19, we were seeing positive trends in school attendance and significant gains in safe water and sanitation coverage. Our emphasis on menstrual hygiene management has improved girls’ lives and helped boys overcome stigmatizing ideas! During COVID-19 our partners accelerated hygiene and sanitation initiatives to meet the need. In the coming years we will learn more about the long-term effects of COVID-19 and compounding effects of disease, economic setbacks, and delayed initiatives.
We weren’t the only organization who experienced immense challenges in 2020, but our partners were still able to reach 11,449 people with clean water, train 708,300 individuals in WASH techniques, and build 10,187 hygiene and sanitation facilities!
We have added two new partners this year who were thoroughly vetted and are positioned to make a tremendous impact with adolescents and youth in particular. We are also connecting our partners more frequently to share knowledge, learn from each other, and collaborate on monitoring tools and best practices. While our ultimate vision is to end the water crisis in sub-Saharan Africa, we want to make sure that our partners are fully and holistically able to serve their communities in wash, sanitation, and hygiene until they are no longer needed.
Don’t forget to vote for Blood:Water!
Don’t forget that you are able to vote for our profile in the People’s Choice category until June 25th! Voters must reside in the 50 United States or Washington D.C. and be at least 18 years old to participate. Voters may cast only ONE vote for the People’s Choice Award and will be asked to provide their email address to cast their vote.
Our work in WASH has been highlighted more than once by Classy, see here in 2018 and here in 2015. We’ve even been featured in a video with them! And here is a throwback blog to when we attended the Classy Collaborative Sessions (and were nominated for the Classy Awards) in 2016.
For the other award categories, our profile has been passed on to the Leadership Council, the honorary board of social sector leaders and executives who collectively determine the winners. Winners will be announced September 28th, and we look forward to seeing what’s in store!