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Water & Sanitation

8 Celebrities Making Clean Water Accessible To Everybody

Model and reality TV star Kendall Jenner grabbed people’s attention earlier this month when she celebrated her 22nd birthday — and not just for her bedazzled boots.

On Nov. 3, Jenner asked her fans to donate $22 to charity:water, an organization that helps people in developing countries access safe drinking water. By Wednesday afternoon, the campaign had raised more than $61,000, including $5,000 from Adidas.

By donating her birthday to charity:water, Jenner used her star power to spotlight an unglamorous issues that affects 844 million people worldwide: access to clean drinking water.

Take Action: Urge Governments And Businesses To Invest In Clean Water And Toilets

But Jenner isn’t the only icon promoting access to clean water for all.

These eight Hollywood and sports stars are also rallying fans around the issue of clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) — a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal that Global Citizen campaigns on.

1/ Matt Damon

No star attacks water-borne illnesses like Jason Bourne.

And no list of celebs committed to worldwide WASH would be complete without Matt Damon, the celebrity face of clean water.

Read More: Matt Damon Plans to Pitch President Trump on Clean Water

In 2009, Damon co-founded Water.org, a microfinance organization that enable families in developing countries to build clean water and sanitation systems. Water.org has made 1.6 million small loans affecting 7 million people around the world. Global Citizen partners with Water.org to provide access to clean water around the world. 

Matt Damon has served as an ambassador for worldwide WASH issues, even sharing the importance of clean water projects with Donald Trump shortly after his inauguration as US president.

2/ Chris Long

Chris Long, a star defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles, first visited Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, but he left with a new goal in mind: to provide access to clean, safe drinking water to communities throughout East Africa.

Read More: This Company Turns Poop Into Fuel for Ugandan Cooks

When Long returned to the US, he established the Water Boys, an organization that recruits other National Football League players and fans to raise money for clean water in developing countries. The Water Boys’ impressive roster includes All-Pro defensive tackle Calais Campbell, retired star receiver Anquan Boldin and Chris’ brother Kyle, an offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears.

"Just like it takes an entire village to source and supply water in Tanzania, it takes a 'village' of supporters to raise critical funds for Waterboys so that we can fulfill our mission. And I think it is important to remember that everyone can contribute something, however small or large, allowing us all to make a difference together." - @laflamablanca95 - As we approach #GivingTuesday on November 28th, we want to share with you the importance of our community and the power of coming together to make a difference. On Monday, November 6th, Chris is hosting 'From X's and O's to H2O' - a party that offers a chance to gather our donors alongside current Eagles players, Villanova Head Football Coach Mark Ferrante, NFL Draft expert Mike Mayock, and Hall of Famer Howie Long to celebrate the current momentum and future opportunities we’re creating with Waterboys. Come make a difference with us and get your tickets now at the link in our bio! - - #phillyforwaterboys #philadelphia #philly #flyeaglesfly #getyourtickets #event #cleanwater #support #tickets #eventbrite #delfriscos #doubleeagle #steakhouse #chrislong #waterboys #waterboysorg #linkinbio #donate #giveback #changemakers

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3/ Neven Subotic

Neven Subotic was born in the former Yugoslavia and moved to Germany with his family to escape the Bosnian War. His family then settled in the United States, where he attended high school. After a year at a Florida college, he signed a professional contract with a club in Germany’s Bundesliga. The Borussia Dortmund center back chose to play internationally for Serbia.

Though Subotic has traveled the globe, it’s his work providing access to clean water and toilets for villagers in the Tigray region of Ethiopia that makes him a true Global Citizen. 2.3 billion people around the world do not have proper toilets, the non-profit organization WaterAid reports.

Read More: The Water Crisis in Puerto Rico Is Still Affecting Millions

The Neven Subotic Foundation helps Ethiopian communities dig wells, build toilets, and organize WASH clubs at local schools.

"The most important thing is to find out what effect our projects actually have," he told DW. "Who's benefitting from the pump? How has sanitation improved? How is responsibility for the project shared among local people?”

The children and their teachers play a key role in bringing a project to fruition,” he continued. “So it's extremely important to get to know people because then you know that the project is in good hands.”

4/ Kristen Bell

Jenner was still a high school sophomore back when Bell marked her 30th birthday by raising nearly $70,000 for clean water through charity:water.

“A billion people in the world are living without clean water. EFF THAT,” Bell wrote. “45,000 people will die this week alone from contaminated water illnesses. Y'ALL, LETS [sic] GET OFF OUR HINEYS AND FIX THIS.”

Read More: Scientists Thought This Water-Related Disease Was Gone in the US. Today, One-Third of an Alabama County Has It.

A year later, she narrated “Water Changes Everything,” an animated video about WASH issues.

Bell has also participated in other projects to raise awareness about WASH, such as Neutrogena’s #WipeForWater campaign, which encouraged people to clean their faces with wipes to conserve water.

5/ Haile Gebreselassie

Though he has retired from his solo racing career, Gebreselassie, one of the of the world’s most accomplished distance runners, remains a champion — but instead of running races, he now advocates for access to clean water. He is a star member of WASH United, an organization that uses sports to raise awareness about toilets, handwashing, menstrual health and access to safe water.

Read More: 23 Countries With the Best and Worst Water Supplies

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6/ Jay-Z

Shawn Carter — aka Jay-Z, aka Hova — doesn’t just throw diamonds in the sky, he’s also known to signal the World Water Day “W.” It’s a two-handed gesture flashed by celebrities on social media as part of an annual campaign launched by Drop4Drop.

In 2007, the rapper and businessman won an award for his documentary “Diary of Jay-Z: Water For Life” and the accompanying multimedia advocacy campaign he created with MTV and the UN.

Read More: 11 Must-Watch Environmental Documentaries from the Last 10 Years

“My man Jay-Z has been a wonderful partner to the UN, and a champion of those in need around the world,” said former UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, who accepted the award on Jay-Z’s behalf.

Jay-Z said the staggering number of people around the world who lack access to safe, clean water motivated him to take action.

"As I started looking around and looking at ways that I could become helpful, it started at the first thing— water, something as simple as water," he said at a news conference at UN headquarters. "It took very little, very little to see these numbers."

7/ David Blaine

The magician with superhuman powers of endurance wants to make water appear for millions around the world.

Read More: Tell World Leaders: Provide Access to Sanitation For All

In 2012, Blaine also raised money for charity:water and mailed a poster to everyone who donated at least $27 to the campaign.

8/ Kendall Jenner

“My wish this year is to help bring clean water to people who need it,” Jenner wrote on her  charity : water fundraising page, explaining that each day, about 1,400 children die from diseases related to contaminated water and poor sanitation.

Read More: This Site Lets You Turn the Water Back on For Struggling Families

Jenner said she has already funded the construction of 25 wells in Ethiopia that will provide water to 5,000 people, thanks to her fans’ donations on her behalf and $5,000 contributions from her mother Kris, sister Kylie, and sponsor Adidas.

Endorsing access to clean water is definitely a step up from that other beverage campaign she signed onto this year.