Providing safe water for the world

June 10, 2008 4:56:53 PM PDT
It's hard to believe, but 80 percent of all diseases around the world are caused by unsafe water.Now, one man is making it his mission to change that.

Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg has the story.

Another startling statistic is that 4,500 children die every day around the world because of exposure to dirty water.

But dirty water can be remedied so easily, and that's the motivation behind the organization simply called Charity.

We may not think a whole lot about water in America. Scott Harrison certainly didn't give it much thought, until he volunteered in Africa.

"When we went into villages, we saw people drinking from swamps," he said. "It's water we wouldn't walk in, certainly not give it to our animals. And this is the water the children were drinking."

He even brought back some of that water and had it tested. It was filled with parasites.

The experiences Scott had abroad prompted the former night club promoter to shift gears and promote water, and the safe drinking of it throughout the world.

A year and a half ago, the New Yorker launched the non-profit called Charity. The goal is to build well, or catchment, projects in communities where there is no clean water.

"For about $5,000, we can give anywhere between 400 and 800 people clean water, just by building a well," he said.

Money is raised in a number of ways, including through the sale of $5 bracelets and $20 bottles of water, which are sold not so much for the water, but the cause.

Donations and fundraisers are also helpful.

And to get the word out, Charity has also created a moving public service announcement featuring actress Jennifer Connelly.

And it's all working. So far, 633 water projects are underway in 11 countries. But there is still much more to be done.

"When a billion people have clean water," Harrison said, when asked when he'd stop. "So we have a lot of customers."

So far, Scott's organization has been able to provide water for a quarter of a million people. It's a good start in just a little more than a year. Each well, by the way, produces 7 million glasses of clean water a year.

For more information about Charity, click