What's the best way to help make the world's water supply safer?

Advice on how to make the world better.
July 22 2009 10:01 AM

Drink to That

What's the best way to help make the world's water supply safer?

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If you want to get your hands dirty, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer. Water for People, a nonprofit started in 1991, has more than 56 local committees that support their mission "through community outreach, advocacy, and fundraising." Volunteer to serve on one of their committees or read their suggestions for ideas of how to educate others on the importance of this issue. If you are looking for an even bigger commitment, apply for the World Water Corps, its international volunteer program. This group matches your skills with a volunteer opportunity in one of the five countries where it works (including Guatemala and Honduras).

You can also look for volunteer opportunities elsewhere. Check out Idealist's International Volunteerism Research Center. Or search for virtual volunteering opportunities with the keyword water on Volunteer Match. From blogging about safe water to drilling in West Africa, you should be able to find something that meets your skill set.

Finally, speak up to demand change. Follow the issues and relevant legislation, such as the Sen. Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009 that's currently stuck in the Senate foreign-relations committee. If you support the legislation, ask your senators to co-sponsor the bill by writing a letter, making a call, or planning a visit.

No matter what you do, there's an enormous potential for return on your investment. Every $1 spent on water and sanitation programs creates an average of $8 in costs averted and productivity gained—not to mention the lives it saves.

Do you have a real-life do-gooding dilemma? Please send it to ask.my.goodness@gmail.com , and Patty and Sandy will try to answer it.

Sandy Stonesifer works on issues related to adolescent girls' health at a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.