Global Humanitarian and Emergency Response

Global humanitarian and emergency response work

LifeStraw operates a 501©non-profit safe water fund in order to respond to emergencies and disasters that require safe drinking water and to respond to additional needs of our communities in the United States and around the world. We work with incredible grassroots organizations across the globe in supporting the delivery of safe drinking water to the communities in which they work. LifeStraw also undertakes special initiatives in its corporate HQ home city of Baltimore and on Giving Tuesday each year. Scroll below for a list of our most recent programs and initiatives.

Response to Hurricanes Etna and Iota in Central and South America

On November 3 2020, Hurricane Eta made landfall off the coast of Nicaragua as a category 4 hurricane, before slowly moving across much of Central America. The constant heavy rains and 140+ mph winds caused catastrophic, life-threatening flash floods, mudslides, and devastating infrastructural damage. On November 17, the area was struck once again by Hurricane Iota, a second category 4 storm, causing further catastrophic damage to many of the same areas still reeling from the storm weeks prior. To aid in relief efforts, LifeStraw has teamed up with a number of nonprofits, including Food for the Poor, Global Citizen USA, ANF Nicaragua, Feed the Hungry Nicaragua, and Global Response Management. LifeStraw also partnered with several outdoor industry organizations including NiteIze, Mpowerd, All Good, and Badger to deliver critical supplies to the island of Providencia

Current projects


Support to communities seeking asylum on the Mexico-US border

In 2020, LifeStraw partnered with Global Response Management and Austin Border Relief to provide LifeStraw Community purifiers for a refugee camp health center, in Matamoros, Mexico, and 75 LifeStraw personal for emergency kits to be distributed to families awaiting US asylum in Mexico. As part of Giving Tuesday, LifeStraw staff also assembled and donated kids stockings and supply kits to families in Matamoros in advance of the holidays. In 2019, LifeStraw worked with 6 migrant centers in Ciudad Juarez to provide LifeStraw Community water purifiers, as well as health and hygiene supplies.

Support to the homeless and unsheltered in the US

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated water insecurity for homeless and unsheltered communities, by the shut down of many public services and public water access points. LifeStraw partnered with several organizations supporting individuals experiencing homelessness. The UCLA Student-Run Homeless Clinic provided care packages, including 80 donated LifeStraw Go bottles, to unhoused patients and community members. Morongod Collective, an organization in Salt Lake City, Utah that bridges the gaps between individuals in-need and those with resources to help, has been working one-on-one with people experiencing homelessness to identify solutions that respond to their individual needs. LifeStraw has donated 40 LifeStraw Go bottles to support efforts. And Operation Address the Homeless, in Allentown, PA, has installed several LifeStraw Community purifiers in local homeless ‘tent cities’ (check out their innovative LifeStraw Community lock-box!

Support to indigenous communities

For many Native American families, the precarious situation of poor access to safe water has been exacerbated by the current pandemic. Between 30-40% of families on the Navajo nation do not have running water in their homes, and during the pandemic stores have had limited supplies of bottled water. During 2020, LifeStraw partnered with several organizations to help provide safe drinking water to Navajo Families. The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health is delivering 70 donated LifeStraw Family filters to households that lack running water or do not trust their water enough to drink. In partnership with the Indian Health Service, their team has identified and prioritized families with elders, children, mothers and/or expectant women. Rez Refuge, an organization focused on Navajo youth development, has also used its existing network to provide LifeStraw filters to at-risk households, as well as several LifeStraw Community filters to local partners, including the Manuelito Navajo Children’s home, which serves local families and children. LifeStraw also donated 250 Go bottles to Bioneers Native Youth Leadership Program (many of whom have families affected by COVID, including loss of jobs and income, and also lack access to safe water.)

Hurricane & Earthquake response in Puerto Rico

LifeStraw has been working in Puerto Rico since 2017, following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Most recently, Puerto Rico experienced a series of earthquakes that began on Dec 28, 2019 and subsequent quakes and aftershocks lasted well into 2020. In response to the disaster, Tara MacDowell, our social impact manager, traveled to Puerto Rico with a team from the University of Rochester and the grassroots organization People 2 People 4 Puerto Rico, to deliver LifeStraw purifiers and other donated supplies to affected areas. The team delivered LifeStraw Family and LifeStraw Community purifiers to displaced families in makeshift shelters and camps. We trained the staff of a local university hospital on the use and maintenance of the LifeStraw Community purifier for use in their mobile outreach brigades and delivered filters and other products to local organizations to distribute to families in need. to help make a small dent in the large need that Puerto Rico is facing. Tara returned to Puerto Rico in September 2020 to support additional safe water and recovery efforts.

Flood & climate resiliency Cox’s Bazaar Refugee Camp, Bangladesh

Cox’s Bazaar is home to the world’s largest refugee camp, where over a million displaced peoples live, the majority of whom are Rohingya who have fled systematic genocide in their home country of Myanmar. On top of the extreme overcrowding, many have resulting underlying health conditions that leave them especially vulnerable to COVID-19; as of July 15, 58 refugees have tested positive and six have died. In addition to the pandemic, refugees in Cox’s Bazaar have been severely impacted by the climate crisis and resulting natural disasters. A 2018 World Bank Report predicted that if greenhouse gas emissions continue, “Cox’s Bazaar will be the worst hit district in South Asia as average temperatures rise and rainfall patterns become disruptive. June through August is monsoon season, and the region has been experiencing extreme flooding, putting the community at further risk for disease. LifeStraw donated and distributed through our local distributor in Cox's Bazaar, 29 LifeStraw Communities to Friendship NGO, a local woman-founded organization to provide safe water access to health clinics in advance of potential outbreaks caused by the Monsoons.

Response to Cyclone Amphan, India

In May 2020, Cyclone Amphan, a powerful and deadly tropical cyclone, caused widespread damage, displaced as many as 500,000 families and killed over 90 people in Eastern India and Bangladesh. LifeStraw, in collaboration with longstanding partner, SEEDS India (a local disaster response and community development nonprofit), and funded by PEPSICO, distributed 132 LifeStraw Community purifiers to shelters and affected communities. SEEDS has also launched a crowd-funding campaign, which aims to fund 300 more purifiers, as well as other needs such as shelters, clothing and health care supplies, for Cyclone Amphan rehabilitation.

Additional programs in 2020: Kenya, Somalia, Ecuador, El Salvador, the Venezuela and the US

LifeStraw supported additional initiatives related to Hurricane Laura response in the United States, partnering with Nomad Humanitarian Works, Global Citizen USA and Southeast Rescue and Relief. In El Salvador, we partnered with Convoy of Hope and local community members to provide 13 LifeStraw Community in response to Tropical Storm Amanda. In Somalia, we partnered with Elman Peace and Changing Tides Foundation to provide 5 LifeStraw Community and 20 LifeStraw Family to a local orphanage, IDP camp and girls academy. In Venezuela, we partnered with Chamos Charity to distribute LifeStraws to families, communities and health centers. In Kisii, Kenya, we partnered with Generosity Global to provide LifeStraw to women’s groups

Flood and COVID Response, western Kenya

During normal times, LifeStraw’s 40 full-time staff in Kenya are charged with year-round education, coordination, implementation and support of our ongoing Give Back school programs. But when COVID-19 hit, and schools were closed and communities were placed on lockdown, our local staff (safely!) sprang to action. They have been busy responding to the pandemic and supporting their communities in a number of ways, including:
• COVID-19 community sensitization, including education on the importance of masks and social distancing
• Installation of handwashing facilities and tippy taps (using jerry cans made from recycled LifeStraw purifiers!) in health facilities and communities
• Training on proper handwashing techniques
• Education on safety during visits to health facilities
• Partnerships with youth groups to promote WASH

In April 2020, weeks of heavy rains in Western Kenya caused significant flooding and landslides, affecting over 233,000 people and displacing 116,000 from their homes. The heavy rainfall increased the risk of disease outbreaks and hampered efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Many displaced individuals are living in temporary camps, where over 70% lack adequate access to safe water. Soon after the flooding, the Kenyan Ministry of Health reported a cholera outbreak in parts of the northeastern region. The LifeStraw Kenya team worked tirelessly to distribute 54 LifeStraw Community purifiers to 22 different locations where displaced families were sheltering.

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