Water 1st International 


People living in extreme poverty have many needs, but we believe water comes first. Water and sanitation projects are the foundation on which strong communities are built. Water 1st works through local partner organizations in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Honduras, and India to provide lasting, effective solutions to water supply and sanitation needs. Participating communities experience substantial health benefits and have more time, energy, and resources to devote to other needs and economic opportunities.

Mission Statement
Water 1st International's mission is to serve people in the poorest communities in the world as they implement community-managed projects that integrate water supply, sanitation, and health education. Water 1st unites people to fight this worldwide, silent catastrophe. We believe the global water crisis will be solved when we build a community of concerned individuals, and mobilize them to take simple, effective actions.
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Water 1st International
1904 3rd Ave 
(206) 297-3024 

Marla Smith-Nilson 
Executive Director 


Water 1st International Programs

Water 1st implements projects in the urban slums of Dhaka and Chittagong, Bangladesh's largest cities. We have a five-year contract with our partner to work with 10,000 familes to assess and meet their water supply and sanitation needs. In 2013, our partner will complete 150 water systems serving 12,500 individuals and 125 community toilets serving 6,000.

Water 1st works in the rural, agricultural communities of Oromia, Ethiopia, where access to safe water is an acute issue. Our partner designs complex, piped water-supply systems and trains the beneficiary communities to manage and operate the systems in a sustainable fashion. Community members learn critical hygiene practices. Use of hygienic latrines is increased from less than 20% to more than 80%. Health benefits and labor savings resulting from these projects are astounding and life-changing. Our project in 20132 will serve 2,000 people in the community of Gonbisa Kussaye.

Our partner organization in Honduras designs piped water-supply systems that bring safe water to each household in a community. Households also construct highly effective pour-flush toilets. Two members of every household receive hygiene education. A local water committee is trained and equipped to manage the water system in perpetuity. In 2013 Water 1st will support the San Bartolo/Capuca project, serving 600 people in two communities and the Portillo El Paraiso project, serving 200 people.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

The extraordinary success of Water 1st projects is attributable to the talents of our local partner organizations. Water 1st identifies and funds partners that have developed highly effective, regionally-specific approaches to the water and sanitation crisis. Our partners utilize their cultural and technical expertise to engage community members and create a strong partnership to address the profound health and labor impacts that lack of access to safe water and sanitation impose upon communities.

The residents of San Bartolo, Capuca, and Portillo El Paraiso in the Lempira Department of Honduras have seen the benefits of the completed projects in neighboring communities. 142 families have completed all the preliminary work necessary to qualify for their own projects. Water 1st is raising funds to provide the materials and support they need to implement integrated water supply, sanitation, and hygiene education projects of their own. In Gonbisa Kussaye, Ethiopia, 2,100 community members have organized themselves and approached our local partner organization to help them address their need for safe water. The water they have dreamed about for many years should be flowing into their community by August 1, 2013.


Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

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