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Sectors of Action

The Ripple Effect of Water and Social Art

Photo credit : Kannagi Khanna
Understanding the interlinkages between the Sustainable Development Goals

Water, art, and the emotions they trigger in people and communities are necessary for sustainable change in the world. As NGOs and public and private sector organizations work towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it becomes clear that many of these goals cannot be achieved if they are treated in isolation. It is crucial that we acknowledge the many interlinkages that exist between the SDGs, in particular those around Goal 6. Achieving universal access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services directly supports a number of SDG targets related to health, education, gender equality, reducing inequalities, and climate resilience/adaptation.

After nearly fifteen years of witnessing these interlinkages around the world, the One Drop Foundation believes that our mission of ensuring a sustainable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene is a crucial step towards progress across multiple sectors, and that art is the essential component allowing these changes to be sustainable. Through our A∙B∙C for SustainabilityTM model and Social Art for Behaviour ChangeTM (SABC) approach, we foster community empowerment and skills, leading to progress beyond the scope of SDG 6.

Water & Art impacts SDG 4 & 5 – Quality Education and Gender Equality

As stated by the United Nations, without safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene facilities at home and learning spaces, it is disproportionately harder for women and girls to lead safe, productive, and healthy lives.1

This is why the One Drop Foundation has incorporated gender strategies into our projects, such as the SCOFI Project in Mali, where new and improved WASH infrastructure is enabling young girls to meet their basic needs, notably related to their menstrual hygiene, and where social art activities are helping communities address gender-specific barriers and norms to promote girls’ education. Through water and social art activities that are rooted in—and pay homage to—local arts and culture, it is possible to empower women and girls within their communities.

Water & Art impacts SDG 3 – Good health and well-being

WASH is a prerequisite to improved healthcare, yet around the world, 1 in 4 healthcare facilities lacks basic water services.2 Increasing access to these water services is crucial to ensuring health and well-being, just as much as promoting healthy behaviours. Since 2015 and through our SABC approach, hygiene practices such as handwashing with soap, safe storage of drinking water, and latrine maintenance have been at the centre of One Drop’s support to project-implementing partners. In projects such as PRISMA 2 in Haiti, SABC not only improves hygiene practices, but also empowers people to lead their own change, find ways to express themselves, and find trust in their health system.

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Water & Art impacts SDG 10 - Reducing inequalities within and among countries

To reduce inequalities around the world, we must begin by acknowledging the disparities that affect Inuit, Metis, and First Nations peoples in Canada. In Northern Quebec, the community of Inukjuak is at the centre of the Pirursiivik Project, which supports community members in developing key skills needed to ensure the project’s sustainability. It creates local business opportunities, increases access to fresh local produce, gets local artists involved, and mobilizes the community through social art activities.

Water & Art impacts SDG 13 - Climate Action

As stated by UN Water, the global climate crisis is inextricably linked to water. Climate change increases variability in the water cycle, inducing extreme weather events, reducing the predictability of water availability, affecting water quality, and threatening sustainable development and biodiversity worldwide.3

Access to safe drinking water is becoming increasingly difficult in countries such as India, where droughts caused by climate change are forcing people to dig deeper into the ground to find drinking water. As part of Project Rajasthan in India, artists lead SABC activities such as street theater shows to raise awareness around these issues, helping mitigate risks of exposure to harmful elements that are prevalent in groundwater.

SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

In our quest for sustainable change, we work within an ecosystem that includes funders, local governments, community members, artists, and partners to ensure that all projects mobilize knowledge and demonstrate impact in Canada and around the world. We recognize it is only through partnership and working with communities that we can make a lasting impact.

The Lazos de Agua Program in Latin America is a great example of actors of all spheres of action coming together for SDG 6, through an initiative that is on track to provide sustainable access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene to around 200,000 Latin Americans by the end of 2022.

At the One Drop Foundation, water and art not only allow our projects to be sustainable, but also allow progress to be made towards some of humanity’s greatest challenges. Let’s recognize art and behaviour change as the missing links to sustainable water projects, and as vital forces that are powerful enough to change lives.

1 UN Women and UN DESA Statistics Division
2 WHO and UNICEF
3 UN Water

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