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, and Honduras 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, Chittagong, and Khulna, Bangladesh's largest cities. In 2015, our partner will complete 250 water systems serving 20,000 individuals and 150 community toilets serving 7,500.

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. Health benefits and labor savings resulting from these projects are astounding and life-changing. We will complete the Dawo Kara project in 2015, serving 3,700 people, and start work on the Dima Jelliwan project.

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 2015, 9 projects serving 2,000 people will be completed. Work will begin on several additional projects including a project serving 15,000 households in the community of Lepaera.

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.

Thanks to the generous support of Water 1st donors, we are in a position financially to support a new partner organization. We have begun a search in Southern Africa and hope to identify an outstanding implementing group in time to start funding in early 2016. 


Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

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