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John Sauer, Senior Technical Advisor for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at Population Services International (PSI)

Editor’s Note: This guest blog post was authored by John Sauer, Senior Technical Advisor for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at Population Services International (PSI). In his piece, John lauds the growing appreciation among WASH practitioners for market-based, holistic approaches to challenges in the sector, but also notes that this enthusiasm has been slow to translate into action. He lists several reasons for this sluggish adoption and describes what PSI is doing to apply the principles of market development to its projects on the ground.

With the excitement and buzz of World Water Day behind us I’m left both inspired and concerned. I’m inspired because there is a growing understanding by WASH professionals that it will take market development and systemic change to truly solve the problem. These methods look overall at what is working and not working in terms of WASH services for populations at risk across value chains and within the market system, and then, based on that analysis, develop targeted interventions with pro-poor innovations to make markets work. What is also exciting is the impact that adopting and implementing these approaches might have on the development sector in general.

What is concerning is that I still only see a handful of WASH projects and organizations fully focused on market development and systemic change. In other words there is a lot of talk but no action. Why?

I think there are a few reasons that I hope will change quickly for the sake of WASH and for development overall.

1)    WASH players are still learning how to do market development

While there have been some great thought pieces written recently about why market development approaches to WASH are critical to success, very few projects are modeling and testing these approaches. We need more players involved with market development approaches. We need more UN agencies, donors, foundations and governments asking for and demanding market development approaches to WASH programs. NGOs and other players should do market development systematically, learn from implementation (through state-of-the-art monitoring and evaluation), and share their findings with the WASH sector, as well as the wider community of practice. These findings should include real examples of what works and what doesn’t.

Fortunately for the WASH sector this energy for exploring market development comes at a time when the wider market development community (traditionally in the agriculture sector) is actively compiling and publishing practitioner resources. The market development community is also trying to get wider adoption from the health sector, in particular WASH.

2)    Funders are still learning how to fund market development

Funders need evidence to drive their funding decisions (rightfully so), and market development work in WASH is in its early days. But we also know that traditional programming focused only on the number of boreholes installed or toilets constructed does not yield transformative change and is often unsustainable. And market development is also a field with some serious discipline and evidence-based thinking behind it (driven by DCED, BEAM Exchange and others). Donors looking to increase their impact should seriously consider funding new market development approaches, so long as those approaches have a rigorous evaluation process tied to them.

3)    Market Development ≠ Marketing

Make no mistake; marketing is an important part of market development. Market development, though, is much wider and looks at understanding the total market as it is now and its potential for sustainable growth. It includes but goes beyond enterprise level support, as market failures will be at other levels too, especially in sanitation.

As for action, I’ve just joined PSI as Senior Technical Advisor for its WASH program and a primary driver for my move here was my new employers’ commitment to market development approaches in health.  Recently, PSI has been adopting market development work into WASH, and sanitation particularly, and plans to continue to expand this work globally.

One of the programs I’m most excited about is a market development program we’ve just launched with USAID funding in West Africa (Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, and Ghana) to improve sanitation and fecal sludge management services for a projected one million people. The program, called Sanitation Service Delivery, involves partners PATH and WSUP, and will support interventions based on a market landscape and analysis in product and service design, business model development, government partnerships, and demand- and supply-side financing. There is also a strong component focused on shared learning that starts with this blog and that will continue in a variety of channels.

So learn with us and follow our progress as we build the evidence that market-based solutions in WASH work. In doing so, we hope to prompt those who are still skeptical to action as well. 

Coca-Cola Africa Foundation Pledges $35 Million to Water Initiative

The Coca-Cola Company has announced a commitment of $35 million over five years through its Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) to provide an additional four million Africans with access to clean water and sanitation.

The new commitment builds on a $30 million commitment by the company in 2009 to bring access to safe water to two million Africans by the end of 2015.

The funds will enable RAIN, the flagship initiative of the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, to increase efforts to bring safe water to six million Africans by 2020; economically empower up to two hundred and fifty thousand women and youth; promote health and hygiene in thousands of communities, schools, and health centers; and return up to 18.5 billion liters of water to nature and communities. Partners in that effort include Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), which will leverage RAIN funding to contribute to efforts to improve water services in selected cities in Kenya, Madagascar, and Mozambique; the Millennium Challenge CorporationUSAID, and WSUP, which together will work to provide access to safe water in the city of Lusaka in Zambia; and Global Grassroots, which will work to empower women in Rwanda to lead water enterprises, improving water access for thirty thousand people across the country.

"Our commitment to the well-being of African communities is unwavering. Through the efforts of RAIN, we are reinforcing the incredible progress made to date with our many partners and are pledging to do even more," said Coca-Cola Africa Foundation president and CEO Susan Mboya. "As we begin work in this era of new commitments, we must continue the progress made from the Millennium Development Goals to set these economies up for success. Through programs and partnerships focused on safe water access, women's economic empowerment, job creation, and community well-being, we are investing in the future progress and prosperity of the African people and economy."

"The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation Broadens Reach of Replenish Africa Initiative." Coca-Cola Company Press Release 04/13/2015.

Charles Nimako, Director of Africa Initiatives at Safe Water Network

Editor’s Note: This guest blog post is authored by Charles Nimako, Director of Africa Initiatives at Safe Water Network. In his post, Charles provides an overview of Safe Water Network’s Beyond the Pipe Forum, which took place last month in Ghana, and focused on the potential for public-private partnerships (PPPs) to improve the country’s rural water supply and infrastructure gap. The piece outlines a number of highlights from a set of policy recommendations on PPPs to come out of the Forum, such as the need for Ghana’s national water policy to clarify rules surrounding asset ownership and the benefits of exploring a variety of different partnership structures.

I, like most managers, enjoy reporting progress, whether it’s the completion of a new Safe Water Station, the community-owned water purification systems we build throughout Ghana, or meeting a commitment to advancing knowledge in the water sector. This past month, Safe Water Network hosted its third annual Ghana Beyond the Pipe Forum in Accra under the theme “Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for Community Water Solutions.” Each session not only engaged panelists and the audience in discussing how we can put PPPs to work for decentralized rural water supply, but also delivered on the key action points from last year’s forum.

The session, Addressing Barriers to PPPs, was chaired by Mrs. Magdalene Apenteng, Director of the Public Investment Division at Ghana’s Ministry of Finance, the key institution facilitating PPPs in addressing Ghana’s significant infrastructure gap. Her role at the forum was particularly fitting since she also wears the hat of Chair of the PPP Working Group, established by Safe Water Network after the 2014 forum to develop a clear policy framework that enables successful private engagement in the supply of rural water. The group, comprised of representatives from government, donors, private sector and NGOs, delivered on its first milestone to put forth recommendations (see below) within this framework, and began the process of broader sector engagement in a demonstration project to prove PPPs could work in Ghana’s rural water sector.

Sampson Ahi, Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Presenting at the Beyond the Pipe Forum. Photo Credit: Safe Water Network

Sampson Ahi, Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Presenting at the Beyond the Pipe Forum. Photo Credit: Safe Water Network

Safe Water Network, coordinator of the PPP Working Group, presented a preliminary analysis around a group of proximate Safe Water Stations, what we call a “cluster,” in the area of the lower Volta Lake. The financial proposition in this prospective case study grounds the idea of a demonstration PPP project in practical implementation experience.

We know others have tried PPPs with limited success, and that we don’t have all the answers ourselves yet. However, we believe we have brought new ideas to light on how to incentivize public and private funding for such a project, and want to show that partnerships can work.

The PPP Working Group and Safe Water Network are working to be part of the solution, and we welcome others who would like to participate. In parallel to the Working Group, we have been in dialogue with the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund to begin structuring specific PPP frameworks for community water provision. Next year, I expect to be reporting progress again with a clear project plan and financial commitments from the public and private sectors to drive this demonstration project.

Here are the highlights from the PPP Working Group Policy Recommendations:

  • A cluster approach to implementing rural water systems improves financial viability (vs. independent water stations) and thus can broaden the extent of private sector participation.
  • Ghana’s national water policy needs to clarify asset ownership regarding who owns what, and which types of PPPs are most practical.
  • The sector should explore varied forms of partnership structures including Design-Build-Operate (a common World Bank partnership structure that is output based and involves significant upfront design) and risk sharing.
  • Immediate opportunities include applying management and service contracts to existing rural piped systems and using public funds for infrastructure investment.
  • There should be a balance in pricing so it can be both affordable and incentivizing to the private sector, but we must remove impediments to efficient pricing.
  • National water policies need to accommodate the PPP policy, which was launched by the Ghana Government in 2011. This should be accompanied by a regulatory framework and an improved information flow about investment opportunities in rural areas and small towns.

We look forward to working with others throughout the sector to learn more about their experiences with PPPs. 

Alix Lebec, Director of Strategic Alliances at Water.org

Editor’s Note: This guest blog post was authored by Alix Lebec, Director of Strategic Alliances at Water.org. Alix writes about the potential for impact investing to help address the global water crisis, which currently attracts far less funding than the WHO estimates is needed. She describes how Water.org has adopted this approach to leverage philanthropic capital and scale up their WaterCredit model in India.  

Impact investing is gaining momentum worldwide. Seen as the future of double bottom-line investing – which seeks to measure investment performance in term of positive social impact, as well as fiscal performance, many believe this approach has the potential to leverage trillions in private capital to address social causes. Wealth holders are increasingly looking for ways to direct their resources and business acumen toward initiatives that generate financial returns and a positive impact at the same time, what we call “doing well by doing good.”

And while impact investing is still an evolving field, social entrepreneurial organizations such as Root Capital and Acumen Fund are paving the way with innovative finance models to accelerate progress toward alleviating poverty. We know there will never be enough philanthropy to tackle pervasive challenges such as the global water crisis that continue to cripple poor communities economically. The World Health Organization estimates that it will cost $200 billion in capital annually to solve the global water crisis over five years, and maintain the infrastructure. Currently, annual investments combined amount to roughly $9 billion, far short of what is needed to solve this crisis. Combining innovative financing, such as impact investing, with smart philanthropy presents one of the greatest opportunities to optimize social returns per philanthropic dollar invested, and scale solutions.

Today, there is a $12 billion demand globally among families at the base of the economic pyramid (BOP) for access to microfinance to meet their water supply and sanitation (WSS) needs. This is a huge market waiting to be discovered. Water.org’s WaterCredit model strives to tap into this demand, and enable local microfinance institutions (MFIs) to provide small and affordable loans to families at the BOP for WSS needs. To date, Water.org has directed $10.9 million in philanthropic capital toward its 51 MFI partners to help them jumpstart WaterCredit loan portfolios. As a result, these MFIs have attracted more than $100 million in commercial and social investment capital to provide WaterCredit loans. That’s $100 million Water.org did not need to fundraise from philanthropic supporters.

Getting a safe drink of water in Bangalore, India. Photo Credit: Water.org

Getting a safe drink of water in Bangalore, India. Photo Credit: Water.org

The impact? At a macro-level, this means this model leverages philanthropic resources to attract much larger pools of investment capital to address WSS needs at the BOP. At the household level, this means a family living in an urban slum in India, for instance, can participate as a customer, and pay for the construction of a toilet or water connection at home. Globally, Water.org has reached 2 million people through WaterCredit.

While this progress is encouraging, ongoing investment capital constraints for WSS lending at the BOP in key markets such as India still represent a significant barrier for scale. Our local MFI partners repeatedly emphasize how much more they could accomplish if they had access to greater and more reliable sources of social investment capital to meet the growing demand for WaterCredit. In its quest to continue attracting more capital to the water sector, Water.org saw this challenge as a unique opportunity to develop and launch the WaterCredit Investment Fund.

Building on the achievements of WaterCredit, this new $12 million Fund will connect, for the first time, social impact investors in the US and Europe directly with WSS needs at the BOP in India. Supporting Water.org’s highest performing MFI partners in this country, this Fund will provide a targeted, annual pre-tax return to investors of 2 percent. And while this is a modest financial return, the potential for social impact returns is tremendous, particularly as the Fund will help scale a proven model – WaterCredit.

Moreover, Water.org has identified $36 million in demand among just a handful of MFI partners in India alone for access to lower cost capital to scale their WaterCredit loan portfolios. Just imagine how much larger that demand becomes when looking at capital needs for WSS lending across India, and around the globe. Water.org plans to build on the lessons learned and achievements of its pilot WaterCredit Investment Fund to address these larger capital needs.

A woman shows her WaterCredit loan card in Bangalore, India. With a WaterCredit loan she is able to pay for water improvements to her home. Photo Credit: Water.org

A woman shows her WaterCredit loan card in Bangalore, India. With a WaterCredit loan she is able to pay for water improvements to her home. Photo Credit: Water.org

How is Water.org bringing this effort to life? By continuing to garner the support of leading strategic funding partners that have a strong appetite for innovation and embrace risk, and see the role catalytic philanthropy and impact investing can – together – play in achieving systemic change that works for the poor. Over the past few years, Water.org has secured $40 million in commitments from a growing community of change-makers and visionaries such as the IKEA Foundation, PepsiCo Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation and Caterpillar Foundation for its WaterCredit programs.

And while impact investing is still a new “tool in the toolbox” that needs time to develop, it is one that presents a great potential for creating a win-win-win situation – for the investors, the implementers and the recipients of impact. What better reason for Water.org to venture into this field in pursuit of scaling what already works? 

In 2014, World Vision engaged KPMG to implement a survey among NGOs involved with WASH activity, with an aim to identify the cumulative impact of WASH implementers and to estimate the number of people reached through WASH initiatives.

Last October, the WASHfunders blog published this piece from Dr. Greg Allgood, Vice President of World Vision, affirming the important role that philanthropy plays in the WASH sector and calling on WASH implementing organizations to participate the survey.

To coincide with World Water Day last month, World Vision and KPMG released their report, Survey of the cumulative impact of water, sanitation and hygiene, announcing the results. Organizations responding to the survey reached nearly 7 million people with clean water in 2014 (an increase of 30% from the previous year), 4.5 million with sanitation services, and 13 million with hygiene awareness training and materials. From 2013 to 2014, total WASH investment by surveyed organization increased 60%.

The authors conclude that while philanthropic organizations are playing a critical role in the global water crisis, their impact alone is not enough to solve the crisis, particularly in the area of sanitation. To achieve universal and sustainable access to WASH services by 2030, as put forth under the Sustainable Development Goals, compounded growth in investment is required from donors, bilateral funders, the private sector, and the global community.

Click here to download the report. And feel free to post your feedback about the survey in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was authored by Sarah Dobsevage, Director of Strategic Partnerships at WaterAid America. In her post, Sarah, who heads up WaterAid’s partnerships with foundations and corporations in the US, describes her organization’s work with drought-prone communities in Burkina Faso, particularly around training local people to develop the skills needed to address WASH problems. 

It hasn’t rained for eight months.

It’s 120°F. And it hasn’t rained for eight months. The rivers and boreholes have run dry. Searching for water, people are forced to dig holes in river beds with their bare hands. Twelve feet down and there’s still no water. 

A dried-up riverbed in Imbina, Burkina Faso. There are several holes where people have tried to dig for water. Photo credit: WaterAid/ Andrew McConnell - Imbina, Burkina Faso

A dried-up riverbed in Imbina, Burkina Faso. There are several holes where people have tried to dig for water. Credit: WaterAid/ Andrew McConnell - Imbina, Burkina Faso

Nearing the end of a seemingly interminably long dry season, people living in drought-prone areas of West Africa are working hard to find enough water for their families to drink, cook and bathe. Keeping their livestock alive becomes a daunting challenge.

These Sudano-Sahelian communes are characterized by a brief rainy season, typically from June to September, that is increasingly unpredictable in duration and quantity of rain. Annual rainfall ranges from 12 inches in the North Region of Burkina Faso, to as much as 50 inches in the South-West.

In contrast, during the dry season, temperatures soar, rivers evaporate and groundwater levels drop – just when people need water the most to survive the heat. A few scattered boreholes serve both people and livestock, putting too much pressure on water supplies. As groundwater levels fall, even the deeper boreholes may not have sufficient water to last communities until the end of the dry season.

Training new water experts to tackle sustainability

Making sure that drought-prone communities have access to water year-round is no easy task, but it can be done. In 14 communities across Burkina Faso, WaterAid is not only investing in additional boreholes, new sand dams and improvements to existing wells, but is also (more importantly!) investing in local people -- giving them the skills they need to become water experts adept in effectively managing their own precious resources. 

Like most of their peers, the majority of the soon-to-be experts in whom WaterAid is investing  are illiterate. Even so, they are learning how to monitor rainfall using rain gauges and measure groundwater levels in wells using tools such as dip meters that make a sound when they hit water. The skills they learn encompass traditional methods and modern technology -- from GPS and cellphones, to graphs and maps etched in the dust. The emphasis is on straightforward and sustainable solutions; we prioritize simple ways of gathering information that can help people plan their water usage for the long term.

In addition to using dip meters to collect groundwater data, we are also employing a more advanced technology, where water loggers are inserted into boreholes. Water loggers automatically record water levels every two hours, providing a real-time dashboard on water resources and usage.

Diao Hassan, President of the Water Users Association, with his official water usage record. Credit: WaterAid/ Andrew McConnell - Nabitenga, Burkina Faso

Diao Hassan, President of the Water Users Association, with his official water usage record. Credit: WaterAid/ Andrew McConnell - Nabitenga, Burkina Faso

Together, this information will enable communities to pre-empt threats, observe annual changes and spot emerging data patterns, all which affect their village. Water experts can then help the community make informed, collective decisions about how much water can be used, at what times of day and in what quantities.

It’s a simple yet effective way of safeguarding access to this vital resource for everyone, every day of the year. When water levels are low, for example, the community may decide to temporarily halt non-essential activities that use water, such as brick-making; alternatively, they may choose to begin rationing water.

These decisions aren’t taken lightly. Monitoring and Documentation committees chaired by the town’s mayor are set up at the commune level and include community representatives, local government authorities, and staff from both WaterAid and WaterAid’s local partners. Each committee boasts a technical unit, charged with controlling and validating data, identifying any weaknesses, and offering technical support to the community when needed. Communities are also aided by regional agricultural directorates that further assist with data interpretation. Working together, community assemblies provide a forum to collectively share and analyze the information from all sides, and make joint decisions governing water use.

While it may sound complex, this multidimensional approach helps to overcome some of the most common challenges communities face, such as the inability to plot, monitor and/or interpret data that might otherwise be too technical, and low literacy levels, especially among women.

At the same time, WaterAid is also teaming up with the local and national governments, making sure that data collected at the village level can be fed into government records that will help build a national picture that informs future interventions.

We all know that water is at the core of long-term development. That’s why we’re especially grateful to the continuing support of the Margaret A Cargill Foundation, which enables WaterAid to train new water experts in some of the hardest to reach communities in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Though the climates are tough, the rewards are great. Never has it been so important to support local leadership in making sure that they have the skills and tools they need to effectively manage the water resources that are vital to poverty reduction, economic growth and environmental sustainability.

A family with their day’s water consumption - 105 gallons for everything from drinking and washing, to cooking, feeding livestock and watering crops. Credit: WaterAid / Andrew McConnell - Nabitenga, Burkina Faso

A family with their day’s water consumption - 105 gallons for everything from drinking and washing, to cooking, feeding livestock and watering crops. Credit: WaterAid / Andrew McConnell - Nabitenga, Burkina Faso

For more information please visit www.wateraid.org.

World Water Day 2015

This Sunday, March 22 marks the 23rd annual World Water Day. In celebration of the Day, we have rounded up several events taking place around the world and online. Details are included below.

Friday, March 20th

WaterAid SH2Orts 2015 film competition

On Friday, WaterAid will announce the winners of their SH2Orts 2015 film competition, which asked amateur filmmakers to submit short films about what H20 means to them. Up until the announcement, the public can view the shortlisted entries and the film with the most views will receive the People’s Choice award.

Launch of the United Nations World Water Development Report 2015 – New Delhi, India

The 2015 World Water Development Report, “Water for a Sustainable World”, will be launched during the UN’s official celebrations for World Water Day in New Delhi, India.

#WWDHang Twitter Chat: DIGDEEP – 2 pm EDT

In celebration of World Water Day on Sunday, DIGDEEP will be hosting a Twitter chat. To join, use the hashtag #WWDHang.

Sunday, March 22nd

World Water Day 2015 ThunderClap

UN-Water, the organization behind World Water Day, is organizing a ThunderClap, which will blast out a timed message via social media in celebration of the Day. To participate, UN-Water is asking supporters to write on a piece of paper what water is to them using the hashtag #WaterIs, take a selfie or video, and then tag the post with the hashtag and upload it via Facebook, Twitter, Vine, or Instagram. On World Water Day, everyone’s messages will be blasted out simultaneously.

Monday, March 23rd

World Water Day Summit -- United Nations, New York City, 10 am EDT

On Monday, MagneGas Corporation, in partnership with the Jack Brewer Foundation and the U.S. Federation for Middle East Peace, will host a World Water Day Summit. To coincide with this year’s World Water Day theme, ‘Water and Sustainable Development’, this year’s World Water Day Summit will provide a high-level platform for dialogue surrounding sustainable development and global efforts to manage clean water. Featured topics include waste water and irrigation challenges as well as sustainable innovations for water procurement.

Tuesday, March 24

The Role of Water and Sanitation in Achieving the SDGs – United Nations, New York City, 6:30 – 8:30 pm EDT

The Permanent Missions of Sweden and the Republic of Benin to the United Nations will be hosting this evening reception, co-organized by a number of World Water Day partners, including UN-Water, ­WaterAid, and the Stockhom International Water Institute. At the time of this posting, featured participants (tbc) include Yoka Brand, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Dr. Fed Boltz, Managing Director of Ecosystems at the Rockefeller Foundation, among others.

WaterAid has announced a three-year, $6.9 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation in support of its efforts in Ghana, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

The grant will enable the UK-based NGO to repair more than two hundred and fifty non-functioning water points in the four countries, address water quality issues, and train people in local communities to use technologies such as GPS and cellphones to monitor groundwater levels and maintain clean water supplies on a year-round basis.

The grant also will be used to ensure that health facilities in trachoma-endemic portions of Mali are equipped with basic water infrastructure. Trachoma is an infectious disease caused by poor hygiene and sanitation that can cause blindness.

When people fall ill in rural areas of West Africa, health facilities near their homes often lack access to clean water. The recent Ebola outbreak in the region highlighted the hidden crisis faced by health workers and patients and the urgent need to address lack of clean water in the region.

"We look forward to working with WaterAid on this innovative and sustainable clean water program in West Africa," said Steven M. Hilton, chairman, president, and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. "Our partnership will reach some of the most vulnerable people in the world, working with local communities to create long-term technological solutions for safe, clean drinking water."

"Hilton Foundation Gives $6.9 Million to Sustainable Water Programs in West Africa." WaterAid Press Release 03/04/2015.

Editor’s Note: This post comes from the Water Point Data Exchange, an initiative aimed at creating a standard for water point data collection to allow for better information sharing across organizations working in WASH. The Exchange invites those working in the sector to provide feedback on their draft standard, available here. The public comment period will be open through March 15.  

No challenge in eradicating water poverty is as pressing as improving sustainability by ensuring continuous high-quality drinking water service provision. High failure rates in the WASH sector squander scarce financial resources. Further, broken water systems can cause harm to millions of people in the Global South who have invested their own time and resources and come to depend on these systems. Despite knowledge of this issue for decades and increased attention over the past few years, there is still a severe lack of understanding about the true nature of this challenge. Limited available data on water points has stymied efforts to better understand and improve sustainability. Facing these challenges, the water sector is at a pivotal point in history where data can play a vital role in the eradication of water poverty.

The amount of water point data is increasing as more organizations and governments monitor their water point functionality over time. Unfortunately this progress has been accompanied by increasingly numerous unique methods through which data is collected, stored and shared. As a result, new data is creating new “data islands.” These emerging monitoring efforts will have limited impact on improving programming and sustainability as long as the data remains inaccessible on organizational servers, in PDF reports, and in proprietary monitoring systems. Unless these different data sources can be harmonized, the learnings will be small and piecemeal, with the true potential of this information remaining untapped.

The Water Point Data Exchange (WPDx) plans to harness this momentum by working with the water sector to create a standard for water point data sharing. To learn more about efforts to develop a framework for sharing this data, view the webinar, hosted by Global Water Challenge, on February 5:



Based on this standard, WPDx will create an effective central hub for the standard-compliant data and will engage the WASH sector to make full use of this dynamic hub, both for sharing and utilizing data. Ultimately, this initiative will transform a growing body of disconnected data into improved water services for millions.

To make this initiative work, we need your input! The WPDx Working Group is inviting water access experts from around the world to provide feedback on the draft standard, available at https://collaborase.com/wpdx. This public comment period will close March 15, so please share your feedback soon. It will only take a moment, and no registration is required. Click here to review the draft standard and share your feedback now.

Imagine a day in which your access to clean, drinkable water ceased and you could not shower or bathe properly and you had no one to help you. For more than 783 million people around the world, that day was today. In 2015, more than 2.5 billion people will also lack access to basic sanitation in the developing world. 

A new initiative led by Nevada’s Desert Research Institute (DRI) is aiming to dramatically reduce those numbers, focusing specifically on women -- who often bear the brunt of the impact from lack of access to safe water; and in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa walk up to four hours per day, on average, to carry clean water back to their villages and families.

Two Ghanaian women trained by World Vision and DRI prepare water samples in a field water quality lab in Ghana. Photo Credit: DRI

Two Ghanaian women trained by World Vision and DRI prepare water samples in a field water quality lab in Ghana. Photo Credit: DRI

“As part of DRI’s Global Water Knowledge Campaign, this Initiative builds on more than 20 years of water research and training our scientists have done in West Africa,” said Dr. Stephen Wells, DRI President. “By raising support to provide women throughout these developing countries with access to adequate water sources and access to training we will ensure their family’s well-being and allow them more time to contribute to their villages.”

The DRI Sustainable Water Initiative is a unique, international collaboration with WaterAidWater for People, and World Vision. Collaboratively, these three world renowned organizations currently have water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs in more than 41 countries. Since 1981, WaterAid has helped 21.2 million people gain access to safe water. In 2013, Water for People raised more than $14 million to support their “Everyone Forever” campaign, providing water and sanitation services in more than 15 countries. Currently, World Vision’s WASH programs reach one million beneficiaries per year.

“The knowledge and experience of these organizations working together (in the WASH sector) will be transformational for the regions being served,” said Charles Creigh, DRI Foundation Chair. “Through a generous challenge-grant investment from two long-time DRI Foundation leaders this global campaign plans to support DRI faculty and students helping to advance our knowledge of water related issues and improve people’s lives and well-being.”

Dr. Braimah Apambire, who will lead the new Initiative and serves as director of DRI’s Center for International Water and Sustainability, explained that funding will go directly to supporting provision of safe drinking water and basic sanitation; creating and implementing WASH education materials for women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa; training of WASH staff; applied water research; and ensuring that WASH projects are sustainable and scalable in developing countries.

The impact of unsafe water, and inadequate sanitation and hygiene is felt around the world, with both human health and economic implications, Apambire explained.

In places like sub-Saharan Africa a significant percentage of the population is at risk of dying from preventable illnesses, many of which are linked to WASH issues. More than 500,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation - that's over 1,400 children per day. Diarrhea is the second biggest killer of children under five years old in sub-Saharan Africa.

In economic terms, 5.6 billion productive work days are lost every year due to complications arising from water-related diseases and the burden of fetching water.

Helping to manage and raise awareness for the DRI Sustainable Water Initiative will be Global Impact, a well-known leader in growing global philanthropy. Global Impact works with approximately 450 public and private workplace giving campaigns to generate funding for an alliance of more than 120 international charities. Since 1956, Global Impact has generated more than $1.7 billion to help the world’s most vulnerable people.

“One organization working alone is not enough to make the sustainable difference that is needed in the WASH sector,” said Scott Jackson, President and CEO of Global Impact. “All of these stakeholders working together will help ensure access to clean water, which does more than save a woman’s life – it ensures her future.”

For more information about DRI’s Sustainable Water Initiative visit - https://dri-water.charity.org/

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