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This Christmas, give the gift of clean water

Photo courtesy of Gary Edenfield via Creative Commons

Instead of giving the same tired old gifts this holiday season (Does Dad really need another tie?) why not make a donation in someone's name to an organization that works to ensure access to clean and reliable drinking water to people here in Canada, or around the world?

Improved access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene is an essential aspect of health and poverty-reduction objectives. In many parts of the world, waterborne disease still is the leading cause of death and illness. Reliable water supplies are a key foundation for the strengthening developing economies. Local water availability is critical to the empowerment of women and girls as in many developing countries as women and girls take on responsibility for gathering water for the entire family.

And protecting drinking water supplies goes hand in hand with with protecting the environment.

So how can people help? I suggest a few options below, but encourage everyone to look for a group that most closely aligns with his or her interests and philosophy. If the group is a registered charity, find out more by find out more by reviewing documents filed by charities each year – board list, financial statements, purpose. Look at the spending of the organization to find out how much of their budget goes to delivering programs or services, and how much is eaten up by administration and fundraising.

Here are some groups that I think are worthy of consideration.

Watercan: WaterCan is a leading Canadian charity dedicated to fighting global poverty by helping the world’s poorest people gain access to clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene education. Currently, donations made to WaterCan will be matched by a private donor

Water for People - Canada: Water For People–Canada is a charitable, nonprofit, international humanitarian organization dedicated to the development and delivery of clean, safe water and sanitation solutions in developing nations. It is part of the international Water For People network.

If you're interested in longer-term improvement of water access and management in Canada there are a couple of groups you may want to consider.

Flow Canada -- the Forum for Leadership on Water is an independent and non-partisan group of water leaders and experts from across Canada that encourages government action to protect and steward our freshwater resources and ecosystems. The Council of Canadians is Canada’s largest citizens’ organization, with members and chapters across the country and works on a number of initiatives, including clean water.

Whatever gifts you give this season, happy holidays to everyone.

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