According to the UN, 2.5 billion people, including almost one billion children, do not have access to basic sanitation. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation, adding up to 1.5 million preventable deaths each year. Although clean water is a luxury for many living in poverty, Fair Trade is a powerful way to change this story.
This week is the 21st annual World Water Week , and we felt it was the perfect opportunity to explore the importance of fresh water and its connection with Fair Trade.
Fair Trade and Safe Drinking Water
Countless communities around the world suffer from a lack of clean water. Drinking water is usually collected from still bodied lakes and ponds that contain parasites and waste materials. Women often bear the largest burden of all, walking up to 20 miles to retrieve clean drinking water for their families.
By earning Fair Trade certification, farmers are not only guaranteed fair wages and safe working conditions, but they are also empowered to improve their community’s standard of living. Using their Fair Trade community development premiums, farmers are able to invest in projects that improve access to potable water in their communities. Here are some clean water projects that were made possible through your commitment to Fair Trade:
Mannong Manmai Ancient Tea Association, China
The Mannong Manmai Ancient Tea Association  produces tea in the rainforests of China’s Hekai Tea Valley—one of the oldest tea cultivation zones in the world. Before receiving Fair Trade Certification, local villages obtained most of the water used for cooking, washing and drinking from a muddy creek bed. Since 2008, 16 miles of main pipeline were developed to link a high mountain water spring with a system of tanks and pipes that serve fresh, clean water from the mountain spring to the villagers in Mannong and Manmai.
Kasinthula Cane Growers Association, Africa
At the Kasinthula Cane Growers Association  in Malawi, villagers had to walk over a mile to a neighboring village to bring back clean water. Other water sources were unsanitary and caused life-threatening illnesses like cholera and dysentery. After the cooperative became Fair Trade Certified in 2002, they voted to use their first community development funds on a drinking water well in the village of Kapasule. Since then, Kasinthula Cane Growers have drilled ten additional drinking water wells for other local villages.
"Fair Trade has been very helpful to us smallholder farmers. We have managed to carry out community projects which benefit us directly, but also larger groups and communities close by.” -- Patrick Khambadza, Chairperson of Kasinthula Cane Growers Association
We believe that fresh water is an essential resource for the health of both people and planet. Celebrate World Water Week by purchasing Fair Trade Certified products that help improve lives, protect the environment, and improve access to clean drinking water. Click here  to learn more about the life-saving health care, environmental benefits, and educational programs made possible through Fair Trade.