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Thirst-Aid inspires the drive for safe drinking water and improved hygiene to come from within populations through education, social marketing and the introduction of applicable technology.
Education is the heart of Thirst-Aid's model, building a foundation of knowledge that supports improved hygiene and the introduction of household water treatment technologies.
Social marketing promotes lasting behavioral change that translates into social and economic gains for Thirst-Aid's partner communities.
Applicable technology nurtures homegrown ideas, cultivating market-based solutions that make safe water affordable and offers economic opportunity as an alternative to reliance on aid.
Nearly nine out of ten child deaths due to diarrhea could be prevented by interventions existing today. There are more effective and lifesaving solutions for preventing and treating diarrhea than any other childhood illness.
Thirst-Aid's primary focus is prevention of waterborne illnesses that result in diarrheal morbidity and death, particularly among children under five years of age. The best way to protect children from these illnesses is to prevent them from getting them in the first place.
Thirst-Aid promotes education and knowledge as the principal tools for safe water intervention, inspiring the drive for improved water quality to come from within communities prior to the introduction of household water treatment technologies. This approach is based on the assumption that educated people do not willingly drink contaminated water--much less give it to their children.
Thirst-Aid's goal is to make knowledge of household water treatment and proper hygiene as common as how to cook rice or fry an egg.
At present, Thirst-Aid works solely in Myanmar, where it provides ongoing technical assistance and quality assurance for a network of ceramic water filter manufacturers that it has helped to establish over the past five years. This network has now produced and distributed over 100,000 ceramic water filters and employ hundreds of people. Ceramic water filters made by Thirst-Aid's manufacturing network played a major role in the disaster response and recovery efforts in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.
Thirst-Aid also provides hygiene education through Thirst-Ed and the Monastery/Orphanage Project, offers economic opportunity for Myanmar's traditional water vendors through a lease-to-own program that provides improved water carts and hydrogen peroxide to disinfect water deliveries, is launching a countrywide social marketing effort for ceramic water filters, and is initiating a new water kiosk project to made an array of water treatment options available and easily accessible along with information to help people choose the option that best suits their needs and means.
Expansion beyond Myanmar is planned for 2011. Thirst-Aid is currently in the process of exploring feasibility and need in a number of countries to determine its next project site.
- Jennifer Wilson
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