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Water Is Life

7 November 2016 at 8:20 am
Wendy Williams
Rez Haremi is the founder, CEO and a board member of Essential Need, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to end extreme water poverty by the year 2020. He is this week’s Changemaker.

Wendy Williams | 7 November 2016 at 8:20 am


Water Is Life
7 November 2016 at 8:20 am

Rez Haremi is the founder, CEO and a board member of Essential Need, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to end extreme water poverty by the year 2020. He is this week’s Changemaker.

Essential Need is dedicated to the goal of ending poverty and ensuring every child in the world has access to clean water, food and shelter.

Haremi, an IT engineer and business advisor whose goal is to improve the lives of children everywhere, is at the heart and soul of the organisation.

He was one of nine Australians to win the opportunity to present their innovations to the world’s elite business thinkers and leaders at Creative Innovation Asia Pacific 2016, which takes place in Melbourne 7 to 9 November.

He believes disruption is a long-term gain and short-term pain, and that innovation is exciting.

In this week’s Changemaker, Haremi talks about solving humanity’s most life-threatening problems, one at a time, why water is the way to a sustainable population and why he is inspired by his father.

What drew you to the not-for-profit sector?

I have always been attracted to organisations that operate to help the needy and make our world and communities a better place to live in. Their decision making and mission is set for the good of the public, whereas the basis of decision making in the for-profit sector is mainly to maximise profits.

Maximising profits does not drive me but helping people is the purpose that I feel I am here for. This is why I have been drawn towards the not-for-profit sector and registered as a not-for-profit organisation.

Why did you decide to focus on extreme water poverty?

Extreme water poverty is killing 1.5 million innocent children every year.

Families that are experiencing this problem have an average of seven children of which five survive. This is because more children mean more security. The population is more than doubling in these regions for every generation.This creates more future refugees, causes food and resource scarcity, causes pollution, denser future cities and increases global warming.

How does clean water fix the population crisis? Clean water increases child survival rate, and with higher child survival rate families tend to have fewer children. By helping the victims that are trapped in this cycle we are also helping our future generations and ourselves.

It will actually cost all developed nations much more in the long term if this issue is not fixed as soon as possible. The water crisis is the number one global risk based on impact to society as shown through the research of the World Economic Forum.

Water is life. Water is the way to a sustainable population.

What challenges are facing your organisation?

We are advancing public education about extreme water poverty facts in developed nations through schools, universities and media, offline and online. Our biggest challenge is to deliver this information as fast as humanly possible and gain people’s support to sign the Mission 2020 petition that aims to end water poverty by 2020.

Our next challenge is to build up our relationships with the government of every developed nation and influence them to commit to a fair plan to solve extreme water poverty together.

You are one of Creative Innovation 2016 scholarship winners, as such you get to present your ideas in a 60 second pitch to renowned global innovators, futurists, scientists and leaders and event attendees. What is your idea?

We are very excited and appreciative of the opportunities that Creative Innovation has brought to Our mission is to provide access to clean water for all children by the year 2020. We will do this by:

  1. advancing public education of water poverty facts in developed nations
  2. asking people to join us and add their voices to Mission 2020, saying “I want every child to have access to clean water by the year 2020”
  3. publicly corresponding with the governments of the 49 developed nations that UN has rated with Very High Development Index, asking them to support Mission 2020 and commit to a fair plan
  4. encouraging people to donate clean water through our innovative approach. We measure their donation using a single unit of measurement, which we have named Water Day. One Water Day equals one day of clean water for one child
  5. encouraging people to share Mission 2020 and ask their network to add their voice and become a member of their Care Network. If anyone in their Care Network donates clean water they will see their impact as a part of their impact since they referred them. People’s word of mouth activity will be shown on their dashboard in the number of Water Days created.

If you think of Facebook as your social network, LinkedIn as your professional network – then Essential Need is your mission-driven care network, which is focusing on solving humanity’s most life-threatening problems, one at a time.

The theme of the conference is disruption. Do you see disruption as a threat or an opportunity?

Disruption to me is basically doing things smarter and faster with higher efficiency and lower cost. In that light disruption is great but this means some activities will not be required anymore, hence this will cause an end to some jobs. So I see disruption as long-term gain and short-term pain because it requires some people to look for new opportunities, which they may fear.

Why is innovation important, particularly to the not-for-profit sector?

With innovation, not for profits can do more with less funds and that is very exciting. Imagine with a team of 100 people a world problem can get fixed where only a few decades ago such impact required tens or even hundreds of thousands of people to achieve the same impact. This is disruption.

What is your vision for the future?

An end to extreme water poverty by 2020.

An end to extreme food poverty by 2025.

An end to extreme poverty by 2030.

World peace to follow.

How do you keep motivated?

Helping and passing on my knowledge which helps others improve their lives, motivates me. Just as much, collaboration with intelligent people and learning something new every day motivates me.

Who or what inspires you?

My father, Rostam, has experienced extreme poverty. He knows what it is to have nothing but a will to change your circumstances. Through dedication to education, he refused to accept poverty made him less worthy of a meaningful life. He lives to help others, and is a real life example of what the world gains when children have an opportunity to break the cycle of extreme poverty. He is a source of inspiration to me.

What are you reading at the moment?

The 10X Rule [by Grant Cardone]. In chapter 22, Grant shares some important patterns of those who are successful, and how we can put them into action in our own lives. Real quick, I’ll mention a few, because I think they are all very important:

  1. have a can-do attitude
  2. believe “I will figure it out
  3. focus on opportunity
  4. love challenges
  5. seek to solve problems
  6. persist until successful
  7. take risks.

If you want to find out more, I recommend you pick up the book!

Do you have a favourite saying?

I have many favorites but the fact that “existence is only in the now and the now is eternal” makes me feel limitless!

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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