The WaterAid Layer

By Veronika Rodriguez

The WaterAid layer in Google Earth is an application developed by Google Earth and the international non-governmental organization, WaterAid. WaterAid is an organization created in 1981 that seeks to improve access to “safe water, hygiene and sanitation” in the poorest communities of the world by working with local partners and influencing decision makers to eventually reach their goal of everyone in the world having access to safe water and sanitation . The WaterAid layer itself was created to broadcast  information about WaterAid projects currently underway across the world. WaterAid’s layer demonstrates its work and that of  its partners while highlighting water and sanitation issues to a large audience.

Figure 1. A view of the WaterAid layer

When the WaterAid application is in use, an icon in the shape of a water drop will appear at some locations when the user is zoomed in on the globe. A person can then click on the icon to view information concerning people’s access to water and sanitation in that area, as well as information about WaterAid’s efforts in the region. For example, if one clicks on one of the three icons located in Pakistan, the user can learn how only 91% of people in Pakistan have access to safe water, and how only 59% of the people have access to sanitation. He or she can also view information about how for over a decade now, WaterAid and its partners have been working to improve sewers in poor communities, and how in 2006, WaterAid opened a country office in Pakistan to extend their work in the area. The Google Earth user can then click on a link for more information about the area and WaterAid’s work.

Figure 2. Image of application in use

By presenting information about water, hygiene, and sanitation conditions on Google Earth, the WaterAid layer has the opportunity to educate a large audience about issues of water and sanitation around the world. The layer marks one way Google Earth is being utilized for humanitarianism.

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