Water is a basic human need to keep bodies functioning correctly and feeling healthy. Without it, survival is impossible. According to the WHOlives organization, “Every day, 2.1 billion people still wake up each morning without clean water. Millions of vulnerable families worldwide do not drink, cook, or bathe with clean water.”
Lehi’s Michael Anderson, director of operations for WHOlives, feels that “water is life,” and his mission is to help provide clean water solutions worldwide.
Anderson has been a part of the WHOlives organization for almost four years. He works to bring clean water to developing countries with an innovative manual borehole drilling technology called the Village Drill. The drill’s design is simple, portable, and durable. It can drill up to 270 feet, be quickly disassembled and stored in the back of a small truck. The Village Drill provides water for those without access to a clean water supply, and the drill changes lives.
“The Village Drill team is proud to boast over 103 drills operating in 36 countries across the globe, bringing water to hundreds of thousands in need of clean water,” according to the organization’s website. https://villagedrill.com/.
Anderson is an entrepreneur who started and ran several businesses. Five years ago, he sold a business and began looking for more than a new job. He was looking for a “way to give back.” While attending a BYU football game, a highlight of the Village Drill technology was shared with the crowd, and Anderson was impressed with its capabilities. This video inspired him to apply for a job at the WHOlives organization. He has never looked back since and has felt fulfillment in making a difference with a meaningful purpose.
“The business model of WHOlives brings success and makes communities and villages feel good,” said Anderson. WHOlivesuses the Village Drill to create opportunities for people who lack water, not foster dependency.
“Up to 85% of donated wells end up derelict. Our model is very different. We create local ownership, economic incentives, and accountability which keeps the wells operational. Our work must be sustainable. Local people maintain and operate These new water systems long after we leave. In short, if the water well improves life and is economically viable, the community will ensure the water stays flowing,” according to the WHOliveswebsite.
“When a water well is donated, there can be a sense of hopelessness as they wait, sometimes for many years, for a water supply. They also need ownership of the well, which becomes complicated if the water well fails or needs maintenance. “This is because it is not their well. They do not own it nor operate it. They depend on the non-governmental organization (NGO) that donated it to rectify the problem,” said Anderson.
The Village Drill is the solution to improving this water dilemma. It can drill in 75% more areas for less than the cost of a typical drill rig. Besides being transportable, it is durable. WHOlives can install drills in some of the world’s most impoverished areas. The “WHOlives donors and supporters subsidize costs associated with each well.” These savings allow for the installment of new water points each month. Donations help cover the costs of the drilling team and materials (casing, cement pad, water pump, etc.).
The WHOlives team provides training so communities understand how to maintain the well for future generations. “This initiative is a proven solution that leads to increased education for girls, improved health and sanitation, and greater development opportunities,” said Anderson.
With the business model of WHOlives, “ownership and economic viability are established so maintenance and access to clean water is continuous,” said Anderson.
Providing water in impoverished areas brings opportunities for children and women. Villages rely on women for water. Women must walk with buckets in search of a water supply, fill them, and carry them back to the village. This chore repeats up to three times a day. It is hard work, and women need their children to help. A water supply allows children to attend school and gives women more time with their families.
“A village in Ghana had 17 broken wells and little water, and they were pleading with NGOs for another one. WHOliveseducated local entrepreneurs on how to start their own water well businesses and helped them understand how to fund them. They now own the well and understand how to maintain it. This changes feelings of dependence to independence because they know that the well belongs to them, they found a way to pay for it, and if it breaks, they know how to repair it.”
He added, “There is no other non-profit that operates this way. WHOlives is trying to build a local economy by helping people get their own wells, drill, operate, and maintain them. This business model allows for success and people feel good.”
When fundraising, WHOlives aims to “put ourselves out of business,” said Anderson. Through education and opportunities in impoverished areas, communities become self-sustainable and no longer need charities for survival.
Anderson encourages anyone to donate to the mission of WHOlives at their website. All donations support water, health and opportunity across the world.
“The best part of my job is receiving videos and pictures from the field or villagers celebrating a new well opening. Sometimes they sing and dance, chanting, yelling, and reveling that they have clean water. Nothing feels better than seeing this,” said Anderson.
Anderson invited all Lehi residents to an informational and fundraising event hosted in Lehi on Saturday, June 1, from 6-8 p.m. Dinner will be served. Event organizers will provide materials at the barbecue explaining water health and the mission of WHOlives. There is no cost to attend, and dinner will be provided. To RSVP, please email Mike@villagedrill.com or text (801) 830-8779. Seating is limited and is first come, first serve.