When we think about water, we think of long baths, ice-cold drinks and big bodies of water we can jump into. As people who live in developed cities and towns, we don’t often think about water apart from the times we’re looking to enjoy it. We don’t worry about whether we’ll be able to have a glass of water with our meals, if we’ll have enough water for a shower or if we’ll be able to clean our homes. We don’t think about water and how important it is to our lives because we have it all the time.
But for 4.2 billion people around the world, clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene are out of reach. Over 6,000 children die every day from lack of clean water, 485,000 die from diseases due to contaminated water and over 200 million hours are spent daily by women and girls collecting water. Even in our own country of Malaysia, where it seems like water is abundant for all, 73% of the rural community don’t have access to clean water. Water poverty is a global problem and has been for a long time. It is a tough issue to overcome and may take years to truly be solved but with companies like H2GO – there is hope.
H2GO is a water technology company which aims to eradicate water poverty globally. They believe that clean drinking water is a right for everyone living on earth and that it should be easily accessible to all those who need it. At the heart of the company is Dr.Rajiv. The founder of H2GO, he is soft spoken and humble, but his work speaks volumes. Over the course of 10 years, H2GO has brought clean water to over 2.5 million people all over the world – with an active presence in Columbia, Ghana, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia. Through remarkable technology: a water filter that is able to produce safe to drink water from unclean sources.
The technology is seemingly simple, you fill the bottle or tank with dirty water and when you dispense it, the water is clean and safe for consumption. It works almost like a magic trick, within seconds water that is brown in colour and full of sediment is completely filtered and crystal clear. This technology has been integrated into systems that work for communities, families and individuals. They are easy to use, don’t need to be plugged in and require maintenance only once every few years. A communal tank can filter 2 million litres of water, which approximately lasts around 3 years. After this, all that needs to be done is to have the cartridge replaced and then it’s good to go again for another 3 years.
When watching a demonstration of how the water bottles worked, I was amazed. How could governments all over the world not already supply these to remote communities or even those affected by disaster? This technology seems like a clear solution to this worldwide problem.
However, it’s not always that simple. Global water poverty can be eradicated with approximately 6 billion USD; although it is a lot of money, billionaires all over the world have more than enough to solve the water crisis and go on living wealthy lifestyles. The question of why they don’t remains unanswered and is incomprehensible to most, unfortunately that is just the current state of the situation.
Water poverty is an issue that discriminates. It only affects the poor. It is rarely spoken about because it affects invisible people whom society deems as less important. It doesn’t affect the urbanites, the politicians or anyone living a comfortable life. That’s why it’s not a hot and trendy issue, because we just don’t see ourselves in the people who are affected.
Despite the immense impact that H2GO has made on water poverty, it is but a drop in the bucket of the global water crisis. Choosing water as a cause to champion comes with taking on an incredibly daunting challenge. Water poverty is a pervasive, historical cause – it isn’t new and trendy, but a traditionally difficult issue to tackle.
When asked; “Why water?” Dr.Rajiv gives a clean and simple answer – I was in the right place at the right time. He came across the technology at a military expo and after doing more research on the global state of water, he decided to take on this cause. He explained that living on the blue planet where technology has become so advanced, it is unbelievable that there are so many people living surrounded by water but yet without any they can consume. The passion at H2GO is palpable, they understand that clean water is a pathway to a better life for many. In bringing about proper hydration and sanitation, clean water allows for individuals to pursue a better life – one where the simple act of drinking water is no longer a barrier.
In some places of the world, 1 in 2 girls drop out of school at puberty purely because there is no access to sanitation. Clean water gives young girls the opportunity to elevate themselves. As women, their sole purpose is often to get up in the morning, walk 7-8 hours to collect water which is likely contaminated. With these systems, they will no longer have to do this and will be able to get second jobs, start their own business, or do whatever it takes to empower themselves, their families and their communities. In the developing world, trillions of dollars are lost through women and girls being held back. Clean water is a gateway for empowerment, upliftment and growth within these parts of the world. It is barrier breaking.
Doing Business With a Mission
At the end of the day, H2GO is a for-profit business with a community-driven mission. Their business has 2 sides to it, the main side is profit driven, selling their products at all levels (individuals, corporations, governments). The other side is non-profit, where they fundraise and conduct donation drives in order to place these systems where they are needed. Their business runs on a sustainable model and all fundraising is purely for the beneficiaries and not for the business. They have zero debt and have never had to raise money for their business expenses. H2GO can stand tall next to other tech companies, they are able to be competitive in their market and do so with heart.
In the next decade, they’re looking to scale up. In the first 10 years they were able to reach 2.5 million people, in the next ten they’re looking to reach 200 million people. With such a massive cause, it is hard to feel satisfied with the work that has been done because it will never feel like enough until water poverty is eradicated all over the world.
“Nobody is too small to make a difference – small acts of kindness is what amounts to real change.”
The Power of Hope
Dr.Rajiv speaks in a way that will leave you feeling inspired. He acknowledges that having a goal of eradicating water poverty can be seen as naive but believes that as long as we continue to dream and believe we will continue to achieve. The day we start limiting ourselves in what we are able to do is the day that things will start to stagnate. Our greatest power is our ability to hope.
After speaking to the team at H2GO, I was left with a sense of immense hope for the future. Regardless of what your goal is, looking to companies like H2GO who do the tireless work that they do serves as an inspiration for all of us. And if there’s anything we can takeaway, it is that all of us need to strive to embrace that every life we touch is meaningful and important. For H2GO they were able to touch millions of lives, but they got there by starting with just one.
Check out H2GO