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Making the world's water go further

March 22, 2013

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Gerry Ellis for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Getting water to families in crisis is paramount. We’re rebuilding the water system in the eastern Congo city of Goma, which was damaged by a 2002 volcanic eruption. The new infrastructure means thousands displaced by ongoing conflict no longer have to trek for miles to collect untreated water from Lake Kivu. Photo: Gerry Ellis for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Gerry Ellis for Mercy Corps  </span>
    New storage tanks and pumps also help bring more water into surrounding displacement camps. Additional latrines and handwashing stations prevent the spread of water-borne illness. Photo: Gerry Ellis for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Sumaya Agha/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Jordan is now hosting more than 400,000 Syrian refugees, putting a tremendous strain on resources in the world’s fourth water-poorest country. In partnership with Xylem Watermark, we’ve dug two wells to increase the water supply in the Zaatari refugee camp. Photo: Sumaya Agha/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Sumaya Agha/Mercy Corps  </span>
    These wells, and an improved municipal water system in two border cities, will support host communities during and after this crisis. Photo: Sumaya Agha/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Ross Hornsey/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Zimbabwe’s economic collapse has fueled a massive migration to urban areas, where we’ve fortified aging water systems like this one (before) to keep up with the demand. Photo: Ross Hornsey/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    The 2011 revolution in Yemen and continued political instability have driven food and water prices far out of reach for many families. Mercy Corps distributes vouchers that help the most impoverished, like Hasna’a Saleh Ali, pay for the water they need. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Joni Kabana for Mercy Corps  </span>
    This new reservoir in drought-stricken Ethiopia means that women no longer have to walk for days to find water for their livestock and household needs. It is one of many ways Mercy Corps is helping water last despite unpredictable rains. Photo: Joni Kabana for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Likewise in Niger, the wells we helped communities build carried them through the severe drought and hunger crisis last year. When families are prepared with infrastructure like this, they are more resilient in times of crisis. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Sometimes water means safety. Our teams in Somalia have installed tap stands in displacement camps like this, which allow mothers to fetch water without leaving their children alone. Better water supplies and latrines at schools help kids learn proper hygiene. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Marisa Elliott/Mercy Corps  </span>
    The lack of sanitation systems in Jakarta’s urban slums causes severe health problems in Indonesia, especially for the youngest children. Mercy Corps developed a portable septic tank that services homes in the even the narrowest alleys and prevents waste from reaching water sources. Photo: Marisa Elliott/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Jenny Bussey Vaughan/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Water is what allows for thriving livelihoods and strong communities. In Karamoja, a northeastern region of Uganda prone to drought and tribal conflict, most have lived a nomadic life. But as the security situation improves, we are helping communities cultivate their land. Rainwater catchment and irrigation systems are helping families increase crop production even through dry seasons. Photo: Jenny Bussey Vaughan/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mathieu Rouquette/Mercy Corps  </span>
    In the world’s newest country, South Sudan, we’re helping improve the delivery of basic services — starting with new boreholes that increased water access for nearly 300,000 returnees, allowing them to restart gardens and farms after decades of civil war. Photo: Mathieu Rouquette/Mercy Corps

Take a look at many of our programs and you’ll find a common theme: clean water is the foundation of change.

When people have a safe and reliable water source, they are healthier and more productive. They are able to prevent disease, grow more food, raise stronger animals, avoid conflict, and spend more time pursuing an education and economic improvement.

And yet, this precious natural resource is frighteningly scarce in many of the world’s toughest places. That’s why Mercy Corps makes access to clean water a priority in the communities where we work.

Whether it’s an acute emergency in a refugee camp, a prolonged drought in rural villages or a chronic lack of sanitation in crowded urban conditions, these photos show how our teams make the most of the water supply and get it to people who need it the most.