The world water crisis is one of the most pressing global health issues of today. More than 1 billion people around the world lack access to clean and safe water and over 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation services.

Safe water supply is a matter that hits close to home for us at Autonomie. Our rubber producers in Sri Lanka did not have a reliable source of running water close to their homes and were forced to walk miles each day with heavy buckets just to get their daily supply of water for drinking, cooking, and laundry. Dysentery and other water-borne diseases were also a major issue for these workers and their families due to the lack of a safe and clean water supply.

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Recently, we’ve made great strides towards bringing these hard-working people better access to clean water. As part of every sneaker purchase you make, a Fair Trade premium goes directly to funding community projects that improve the standard of living for our workers, their families and their neighboring villagers.

The 2007 payments went to provide a clean piped water system bringing running water to 65 families living on the rubber plantation. While the funding we were able to provide was not enough to meet all of their needs, this is the first time in history that clean water is available from taps right in front of each house! The project was successfully completed with extra funding donated from the rubber estate, the workers own contributions, and the use of old and abandoned materials, such as an unused pump found on the estate.

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There are other worthy groups trying to help solve the world’s water issues. Just this morning, we found this video on YouTube about a new innovative bike that alleviates the burden of walking and carrying water long distances and even purifies the water on the ride home!

If you’re wondering what you can do to help, you can buy a pair of sneakers or a Fair Trade sports ball so that we can help raise more funds for even better community projects in 2008.

You can also get involved with the UN’s World Water Day coming up on March 22, join a virtual Walk for Water, or donate to one of the many non-profit organization’s and NGO’s, such as our favorites Water Aid and the Global Water Foundation, that are committed to ridding the world of inadequate water.

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