Saturday, July 02, 2011

Matt Damon Takes On The Global Water Crisis As His Personal Mission

Matt Damon traveled to Africa for a 10-day journey organized by his friend Bono's ONE Campaign. The goal was to understand what it means to live in poverty. "It was like a mini-course in college," he stated.

What shook him was a hike that he took with a fourteen year old girl, who had to embark on an hour long trudge every day to collect water for her family. An hours walk is good news in many places throughout the world. Nearly one billion people that lack access to clean water.

"This is not something any fourteen-year old girl should have to go through," thought Damon. Along their walk Damon asked the girl what her dreams were for the future. "She got shy all the sudden, but eventually confessed that she wanted to become a nurse."

Without access to water, the young girl would not have been able to attend school and would have most likely been forced to fight for her life in other, more precarious ways, spending her life scavenging for often-dirty water in unhealthy and unsanitary environments.

Damon is now the face of and is working to provide access to clean water and sanitation globally. He has turned himself into a development expert and has fully embraced the global water crisis. is a smart merger of two organizations: Damon's H2O Africa, which he founded as a way to allocate money to well-managed NGO's in Africa; and Gary White's WaterPartners that develops innovative and counterintuitive approaches to water access. is estimated to raise $10 million in 2011 and up to $4 million in 2010. The use of the money is not just given to well drillers, but rather to negotiate deals between microfinance corporations and communities. For example, the organization helps villages access local bankers, who then build systems to tap into. also guarantees the loan.

"By using local capital markets to develop the projects, people get access to the credit system. The villagers own the project at the end, and they are proud of it because they have done it themselves," stated White. has helped 315,000 people gain access to clean water systems already and donations are still on the rise!

-Gabrielle Gurian