nehst_logo Running the Sahara
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Today, approximately one in eight people on earth do not have access to clean water. And 2.5 billion people don't have access to a sanitary toilet.

Co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White, is a nonprofit organization that has transformed hundreds of communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America by providing access to safe water and sanitation. traces its roots back to the founding of WaterPartners in 1990. In July 2009, WaterPartners merged with H2O Africa, resulting in the launch of works with local partners to deliver innovative solutions for long-term success. Its microfinance-based WaterCredit Initiative is pioneering sustainable giving in the sector. Learn more and make a difference today at

Image: Water Project Ethiopia
Image: Video: Water Project Ethiopia
Image: Video: Water Project Ethiopia
Video co-founders Matt Damon and Gary White visit water projects in Ethiopia. Included in these sites are several open hand dug wells, a hand pump station, a sand ditching site, and a new well construction project.

During their visit, Matt and Gary meet several villagers and discuss the water issue with our local partners from REST. Production of this video was made possible by the ongoing support of the Open Square Foundation.

Watch more videos from Ethiopia.

An Ethiopian Woman's Water Story

Kebedech Hagos, a mother of young children and the main provider for her family, used to walk three hours each day to fetch a single jug of water in her village of Guetelo, Ethiopia. During the dry season, the river would dry up.

Thanks to our donors, Kebedech now only walks five minutes from her home to the new village well. The water is clean and ample. Her children are healthier and attend school regularly. With wastewater from the new well, she grows vegetables in her yard. This provides food for her family and she sells the surplus for income. She even has time to participate in the government's food-for-work program. "Water is our life," says Kebedech.

Read more stories at

List of Charitable Partners

A Letter From Matt Damon
November 10, 2006

Image: Water Project Ethiopia
Matt Damon, The Kondwa Centre in Zambia, May 2006.
Photograph by J. Tayloe Emery
Right now, three human beings are attempting the impossible—running 4,000 miles across the Sahara Desert to raise awareness for the 1.2 billion people around the world who don't have access to clean water. They will run 50 miles a day—for around 100 days—an amazing feat of human will and endurance.

Earlier this spring, my friends at the ONE Campaign and DATA brought me to Zambia and South Africa, where I witnessed extreme poverty and the role that clean drinking water plays in getting millions out of danger. I learned that a child dies every 15 seconds due to diseases from dirty water.

Upon my return, I wanted to do something.

Through some friends, I learned about three men who will undertake a quest so amazing and symbolic that it could do an immense amount of good for Africans in extreme poverty. In a bold expedition that has never been attempted—3 men, from 3 nations will run from the Atlantic coast of Senegal, through Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Libya, to the Red Sea in Egypt.

My colleagues, including James Moll—a great filmmaker who won the Oscar™ for Best Documentary in 1999—are documenting and promoting the expedition in our project called Running the Sahara. As part of this effort, we've started a charitable initiative called H2O Africa, in a large part to raise awareness for clean water programs on the continent.

One of the reasons I got involved in the project was because of the day I spent with a 14-year-old girl in Zambia earlier this year. I walked two miles with her to the closest water source, a well outside her village. I asked her if she wanted to stay in her village when she grew up, and her face exploded into a huge smile. The translator said to me, "She is being very shy...she says that she wants to move to big city—Lusaka—she wants to be a nurse." And it was clear to me at that moment that if this well were not there for her, she would never even be able to entertain the concept of planning for the future—she would have been trying to survive just for that day.

This one well was giving hope to thousands of people in the surrounding area, and this hope translates into something concrete—that girl can now fulfill a dream to become a nurse, and can become an economic contributor to the Zambian economy.

Running the Sahara is happening NOW. These guys are there and they are going for it. And we want the world to sit up and take notice. These guys are my heroes, and I want to do whatever I can to support them and their mission.

Please join me.
Thank you,
Matt Damon

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  Map: Northern Africa. Track the Journey
Products and Pre-sales
Running the Sahara DVD
Click here to purchase the DVD of Running the Sahara.

Screenings and Events
Running the Sahara
Nehst will be holding theatrical event screenings for Running the Sahara at which you can meet the runners, Director James Moll or Producers Matt Damon, Larry Tanz, Keith Quinn or Jim Van Eerden. Click here to see the current schedule.

People and Places
Image: camels walking across the desert
Discover the vibrant cultures of the Sahara from Senegal to the Suez with maps, photos, music, and more.

Magellan Navigation
Logo: Magellan
The expedition team and the athletes rely on a number of Magellan Navigation devices in the field to guide their run.

Image: Toyota logo
Toyota high-tech SUVs transport the expedition and film crews over mountainous sand dunes and uncharted terrain.

Champion Athletic Apparel
Logo: Champion
Champion is the official apparel sponsor of Running the Sahara, providing apparel for the athletes and expedition crew.