Over 1 billion people worldwide do not have access to safe water, and every year, more than 2 million people around the world die of diseases they contract from contaminated water. Giving everyone in the world safe drinking water would cost hundreds of billions of dollars in treatment plants, pipes and taps. Thanks to a simple technology developed by retired CDC scientist and researcher Dr. Eugene Gangarosa and his colleagues, safe water is becoming a reality for even the poorest families in the most remote parts of the globe. Called the Safe Water System, it combines water treatment using inexpensive diluted bleach solution and safe water storage using narrow-mouthed containers and lids.
Reflecting a lifelong commitment to provide safe water around the world, Dr. Gangarosa and his wife, Rose, established the Gangarosa Endowment for Safe Water in May 2000 to provide an ongoing source of support for CDC's safe water initiatives. In his words, "CDC's Safe Water Program provides us such a unique opportunity to help by addressing in a meaningful way one of the most pressing public health needs of our time - safe water for all. Rose and I know of no better investment in our children's future than this to save lives, improve quality of life and contribute to global stability."
Rob Quick, M.D., M.P.H., medical epidemiologist with CDC's Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch, works to launch and implement many of CDC’s safe water projects. "We are able to tap the Gangarosa Endowment at critical times to get safe water projects off the ground,” says Quick. “It doesn’t have to be a large amount of money. Sometimes you just need a catalyst, a way to pay certain costs to get over the hump to make something happen. The Foundation has often provided a conduit for doing that.”
To date, the the Gangarosa Endowment has been used to support the following initiatives:
- Evaluation of a project to install handwashing and drinking water stations in 180 rural Kenyan health facilities, train health workers about water treatment and hygiene, and encourage the health workers to promote these healthy practices to their clients. This project helps address the problem of a lack of handwashing and safe drinking water facilities in literally thousands of clinics in sub Saharan Africa.
- A project to bring safe water storage containers to communities in rural Madagascar
- Sponsoring masters of public health students to study a safe water system project in Jolivert, Haiti following the devastating earthquake of 2010