It is no secret that drinkable water is hard to come by in some parts of Africa. To help alleviate this dire situation, the RainCatcher was started. RainCatcher ( www.raincatcher.org) is a non-profit organization that is committed to providing clean drinking water for those who go without. Since 2004, RainCatcher has been providing clean drinking water solutions to Africa and, more recently, to other parts of the world.
“Mark Armfield, founder and chairman, was in green building construction for 30 years in Malibu, CA and when he met Father Kizito from Africa, he knew his experience in rain water harvesting could be a way to give back and help save lives. He raised money for Africa in 2009 and relief efforts in Haiti in 2010 and RainCatcher has been growing ever since. In January 2011, he asked me to become the executive director and grow RainCatcher into a sustainable business that can help many more people,” says David Zielski, executive director, RainCatcher.
Today, actor Dennis Haysbert is RainCatcher’s spokesman. A longtime supporter of the organization, Haysbert is known for starring as President David Palmer on the show “24”; Sergeant Major Jonas Blane on David Mamet’s The Unit; and the face of Allstate Insurance. With support from high profile people such as Haysbert, the organization has been able to help many. But, says Zielski, there is much more to be done.
“(Some) 4,500 people die each day from water-related illnesses. According to the World Health Organization, over 1 billion people lack access to clean water. RainCatcher provides clean drinking water by catching rain. There is nothing easier than catching the rain. These villagers sometimes walk for 5 miles each way to drink dirty, contaminated water. There currently is a big problem with wells breaking down or getting contaminated and there are no funds for maintenance. We actually paid for a well to get fixed in Africa on our last trip. We build rain water harvesting systems in schools and churches, providing instant and easy access to clean water for the village,” he notes.
The organization has, however, been growing. “We had been growing at a controlled pace up until a few months ago when we started sharing the awareness of what we were doing. People took notice,” explains Zielski. “Now, besides eastern Africa, in the past few months we have traveled to Senegal and India. Both places are in need of clean drinking water. We have a lot of people donating time to our cause to help spread awareness and several financial contributors like, Beachbody, that have allowed us to give clean water to almost half a million people. Once people see how easy it is to catch and filter the rain for clean drinking water, they find it easy to donate money and their voice to what we are doing.”
In Kenya, for example, through the efforts of RainCatcher more than 70,000 people now have access to clean drinking water. In Uganda, the organization has made a difference in several districts, aiding more than 70,000 people there as well. There are several other projects in the country RainCatcher is looking to fund.
“We are making plans to expand into Western Africa and India right now,” says Zielski of the organization’s goals. “India has an awful situation right now as their water table is being depleted by up to three meters per year (meaning the water is further in the ground) and from our visits to villages there are heavy metals, arsenic, fluoride and other pesticides in the ground water making wells a poor choice for their water supply. During the monsoon season, there is ample clean rainwater to collect and store.”