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Watercan helps you give the gift of water to Ugandans in need

By Alejandro Bustos on December 18, 2012

Looking for a special Christmas gift this year? Well, thanks to a local charity, you can now show your love for a relative, spouse or friend by giving a present that will make a real difference.

Watercan, a non-government organization located at 321 Chapel Street, is currently running its holiday campaign Gifts of Water. The fundraiser, which runs until Christmas day, is looking to collect $60,000 to install clean water and sanitation equipment at two medical clinics in Uganda.

People can make a donation on behalf of someone else and then email an electronic card to the gift recipient, or alternatively print a special card provided by Watercan that can be given in paper format. Since Watercan is a registered charity, all donors will receive an official tax receipt.

“Every dollar that is donated goes to the project,” says Andrea Helfer, communications manager for Watercan.

All of the money raised – up to the last cent – will used to improve water and sanitation conditions at Ndejje and Kasanje Health Centres in Wakiso District in Uganda. None of the funds in this campaign will be diverted to the charity’s overhead.

Furthermore, thanks to a partnership with CERF, an Alberta-based company that provides commercial and industrial equipment, as well as waste management and recycling solutions, every dollar raised will be matched. As such, a $50 donation becomes $100, and $100 gift will turn into $200.

The need for clean water is a pressing issue in African countries. To stress this point, Helfer tells the story of a medical clinic in Ndejje, which had to ration one 20-litre bottle for an entire week to meet the needs of a maternity ward. With that mere 20-litres, the clinic had to wash the babies in their care. By comparison, the average Canadian uses about 350-litres a day for washing, cooking and cleaning needs – and this figure excludes any additional water used to wash a car or water a lawn.

“It’s hard to imagine people going to a medical centre without proper water and sanitation,” says Helfer.

What makes Watercan different from some other charities is that local organizations take the lead on projects.

“We don’t send flotillas of western experts and advisers,” explains Helfer. “We work in partnership with African NGOs …. We (also) never work in a community that hasn’t identified water and sanitation as a need.”

As part of this push to work with locals, Watercan has partnered with Voluntary Action for Development, a Ugandan NGO.

Helfer explains that Watercan’s model is to have locals engage in projects so they can acquire a sense of ownership. Instead of having westerners dig wells or install water pumps, Ugandans do this work.

Donations can range from as low as $20, which will help fund soap for good hygiene, to $1,100 to install a hand pump. Other amounts include $60, which will help install four water taps, to $100 for the training of 10 water and sanitation attendants. (See here for the various options).

For more info on Watercan, check out their Twitter, @watercancharity, or their Facebook page.