On Super Bowl Sunday, in a commercial by an alcohol beverage company, Matt Damon promised that if people purchased a chalice, $3 of the $13 purchase would go to benefit communities in need with clean water for five years. Stella Artois is doing this in partnership with Water.org.
NPR released an article on February 2 in which they fact-checked the numbers mentioned in the commercial. Quite frankly, people did not and could not believe that only $3 could provide water for 5 years as Matt Damon’s commercial promises. Are these numbers real and legitimate? Read NPR’s research on the claims by following the link here. But this article is about why this commercial is necessary.
The commercial that aired during the Super Bowl can be viewed below:
Matt Damon’s Voice is Necessary
Matt’s voice and passion are necessary because the global water crisis is real, people are dying and not enough is being done yet to help. The world and even the Christian-world doesn’t yet care enough to solve the problem on a massive scale.
Some people will criticize Matt or the commercial for the price tag of the commercial. Some will criticize the company because the chalice costs $13. Some will criticize the company because they could just give money to water charities instead of paying for a commercial or selling chalices. All these criticisms have their place and are somewhat valid. But, if the biggest critique is that they could’ve have put their money somewhere else, then it’s possible the people who are receiving clean water as a result of this commercial would argue the other angle.
Stella Artois and Water.org’s Commercial Successfully Raised Awareness
This “Taps” commercial sparked the highest search traffic from Super Bowl commercials last night when compared to the baseline according to TVSquared’s research.
It is important not to overlook the impact of raising awareness and the overall fundraising impact shouldn’t be overlooked either. Only time and eventually Water.org’s financials will tell how large an impact this commercial made on helping provide water, but here are a couple tweets from last night (Super Bowl night).
— Cathy Campbell (@cathcamchatter) February 5, 2018
Thank u @Water, #MattDamon, @StellaArtois for being the only ones to step up in caring about people & our #environment with your commercial. With a Big audience, Big Viewership &
🏈 #SuperBowlSunday! 🏈@Patriots & @Eagles…Thanks again @Water @StellaArtois for promoting life.
— angellight (@angellight) February 5, 2018
How are Christians and the Church helping serve others and drawing attention to the felt needs that exist in the world today? Damon’s comments, good looks, and charm focus our attention once again on a need that exists around the world. And a problem that faith-based organizations are helping provide solutions to.
The Global Water Crisis is Real
According to Water.org’s website, the need for access to clean water and proper sanitation is a very real need.
“Today, 1 in 9 people lack access to safe water and 1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet.”
- 844 million people lack access to safe water
- 2.3 billion people lack access to improved sanitation
- 1 million people are killed by water-related disease each year
Gospel for Asia’s clean water site notes that:
- Every year, 361,000 more children could live to see their fifth birthday if they had safe water and good sanitation habits.**
- Water contaminated with something like arsenic can give a person headaches, confusion, stomach pains, vomiting, and diarrhea. Long term exposure to arsenic can lead to skin diseases, cancer or—if not treated—coma and death.
Charity:Water lists a few things are accomplished when we help provide access to clean, safe water to families and communities in need and try to tackle the global water crisis.
- Access to clean water and basic sanitation can save around 16,000 lives every week.
- Access to clean water gives communities more time to grow food, earn an income, and go to school — all of which fight poverty.
- Less time collecting water mean more time in class. Clean water and proper toilets at school means teenage girls don’t have to stay home for a week out of every month.
- When a community gets water, women and girls get their lives back. They start businesses, improve their homes, and take charge of their own futures.
Who is Helping Solve the Global Water Crisis?
There are thousands of non-profits, the United Nations and many governmental authorities working to try and solve this global problem. But is enough being done?
Current issues in the news revolve around Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town could run out of water by April 2018. What happens then? In USA Today’s article on this water crisis, the city is setting up temporary desalination plants to help turn the ocean water into drinkable, usable water for the people across the city.
Large desalination plants are not options for landlocked nations or other nations in poverty. For these other nations like India, Nepal and Ethiopia, clean water wells are of great assistance. Water filters are vital for villages and communities with access to water, but the water isn’t clean. And one of the largest health crisis facing a nation like India is the need for safe sanitation options for its citizens.
Water.org does not directly help citizens of these nations get access to clean water, but they do provide the funds in forms of micro-loans and water credits so that those in need to pay for the water they need. As NPR noted in its article, “Despite its name, Water.org doesn’t actually provide water to people in the developing world. So your $3 won’t go directly toward, say, the delivery of jugs of water or the building of a well.
To fulfill its mission, the nonprofit has set up a custom microlending system called WaterCredit.”
So, if Water.org is only partially helping, who can we turn to or invest in to make sure needs are being met around the world?
Gospel for Asia (GFA)
Gospel for Asia is one organization providing clean water and sanitation solutions for families and communities in need.
In 2016 alone, Gospel for Asia and its affiliates worldwide, provided:
- 6,822 clean water wells
- 14,886 water filters for families
- 10,512 toilets for needy communities
Gospel for Asia (GFA) has been serving needy families and communities in Asia since 1979. These numbers are for one year and are not an isolated incident. This nonprofit also provides literacy training, sewing machines and child sponsorship in Asia.
Based on other nonprofit’s definitions of “water projects”, it appears that GFA has helped with more than 30,000 water projects in 2016, alone. For an organization whose sole focus is on serving the poor and not just about providing clean water, this number is staggeringly high especially compared with other nonprofits that are more well known.
As the stats on the global need for clean water and sanitation indicates, the crisis goes beyond the need for clean drinking water. Safe sanitation solutions are also very needed and could potentially be a greater need than just clean drinking water.
GFA’s special report on clean sanitation solutions and the world’s toilet crisis is worth reading to get a better grasp on what it takes to improve sanitation standards in India or around the world.
In 2011 Vanguard created a documentary episode on the of the world toilet crisis and need for proper sanitation. You can view their trailer below. (Warning: Crass language used in the trailer).
Charity Water is a well known water-related charity based in New York. On their site, Charity Water says, ” we invest the money we raise into organizations with years of experience to build sustainable, community-owned water projects around the world.”
They have funded more than 24,000 water projects since they started working in 2006.
Charity Water’s founder, Scott Harrison, has brought awareness to this issue since just before starting Charity Water. Due to his proximity to celebrities, his work history and passion to see clean water delivered to those who need it, he is one of the better-known charity founders today.
Charity Water does more than provide clean drinking water as well.
If after watching Matt Damon, you’re persuaded to help solve the global water crisis impacting billions today, invest with Gospel for Asia or Charity Water, as they meet the needs of communities because they have people on the ground who know what’s needed in each circumstance.
Note: Tide might’ve won the Super Bowl for the best ad … Matt Damon’s shirt looks clean, does that make it a Tide ad? #TideAd
Editor’s Note: Author is a current staff member of Gospel for Asia (gfa.org).