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Coca-Cola Commits $3.5 Million to United States Water Partnership

The Coca-Cola Company has announced a $3.5 million commitment to the United States Water Partnership, a public-private partnership launched on World Water Day 2012 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Announced at the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil, the partnership is designed to unite American expertise, knowledge, and resources and mobilize those assets to address global water challenges, with a focus on the developing world. Awarded through the company's Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), the funding will support water access programs in countries with the most significant needs, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Somaliland. Atlanta-based Coca-Cola will contribute $3 million toward a wide range of sustainable water access activities in those countries, including efforts to expand water access in informal urban settlements and in hospitals and promote multiple uses of water that empower women.

The remaining $500,000 will support USWP's efforts to transfer additional resources to African countries characterized as high-need in terms of access to clean water and sanitation. USWP also will make learnings from the RAIN initiative available to the global water sector.

"Access to safe water is essential for our company and our world," said Coca-Cola chief sustainability officer Bea Perez. "The sustainability of water resources is a top priority at the Coca-Cola Company. We are honored to support the USWP while being a catalyst for sustainable water access solutions in Africa."

Source: “The Coca-Cola Company Commits $3.5 Million to U.S. Water Partnership.” Coca-Cola Company Press Release 6/21/12.

Editor’s Note: This post was authored by Barbara Frost, chief executive of WaterAid, a U.K.-based organization working to provide safe drinking water, and improve hygiene and sanitation in 27 countries. Prior to WaterAid, Barbara was chief executive of Action on Disability and Development. She previously worked for various international NGOs such as ActionAid, Save the Children, and Oxfam Australia. This story was first published by Devex, and a version of it originally appeared on as part of Rio+Solutions, a joint campaign with the UN Foundation.  

Girls enjoy the clean water from the new water points in Tianfala, Mali. Credit: WaterAid / Layton Thompson

Girls enjoy the clean water from the new water points in Tianfala, Mali. Credit: WaterAid / Layton Thompson

It is difficult to change people’s perceptions of international development, especially when TV reports from the Horn of Africa and Niger seem to hark back to the famines and droughts of the 1980s. Despite three decades of increased funding and global campaigns, such as Make Poverty History, people are asking: What has changed?

Since 1990, 2 billion people have gained access to an improved water source for drinking and other basic needs, while 1.8 billion more people now have adequate sanitation. But while these achievements have had a dramatic and transformative impact on those living in extreme poverty, there is a strong need to recognize how far the world has traveled and what needs to be done.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on May 10 that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will co-chair a high-level panel that will shape post-2015 development goals. This panel faces a sizable challenge but it also has the opportunity to spearhead the drive to accelerate global development — including making universal access to water and sanitation a discernible reality.

A key issue that has been gathering momentum is how to measure human progress beyond the gross domestic product. Stepping back from the economic rhetoric of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission, it’s clear we need to include water in our measure of a country’s progress. Water is fundamental to human progress. As UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said at the recent Sanitation and Water for All meeting in Washington, DC, “safe drinking water and dignified sanitation and hygiene are at the heart of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.” Right across the board from nutrition, maternal health, child mortality and gender equality, water plays a critical factor in progress toward these development goals and human well-being.

So where does Rio+20 fit into this agenda? For starters, Rio+20 provides a platform for world leaders to reiterate the importance of water and sanitation in creating sustainable communities and to ending poverty. It allows them the space to reiterate the fundamental right to safe drinking water and decent sanitation as basic services that should be available to all. And it allows them to commit to a timetable and road map that will mean tangible progress for those who desperately need our leaders to take a stand and keep their promises. If world leaders can prioritize, commit resources, and sign up to a vision and timescale, then we will have something to celebrate.

But amid the macro debates about universal access to water and sanitation, we mustn’t lose sight of the reality that water plays a critically important role in food security, economic growth, resource scarcity and, of course, climate change. But where is the joined-up approach?

Ultimately, we need to shift our focus to solutions that will have a genuine impact on people’s lives. Targets are important symbols that give hope and demonstrate commitment, but it is the mechanisms to achieving those targets that are crucial. Heads of state and finance ministers need to recognize water and sanitation as fundamental to human development and sustainability, and place a much greater priority on these “orphan services.” This political will needs to be backed up by addressing the major capacity and funding gaps to have impact at scale. Lasting progress for everyone is the prize and key to accelerating economic and social development.

The Sanitation and Water for All partnership is making inroads toward this aim. At the April meeting, more than 40 governments agreed to commitments that, if delivered, will increase access to water and sanitation to more than 85 million people in Africa alone by 2014.

Ghana and Liberia are the first two countries to enter into the more intensive National Planning for Results Initiative — aimed at driving practical progress through governments working in partnership with international donors and civil society — to render credible plans to deliver water and sanitation. Both countries have now established compacts that directly address the gaps and also outline ways to tackle the capacity shortfalls in bringing about improved access. This will take time, but the foundations are in place.

Water is both the problem and the route to success. It’s often not the sexiest of solutions, but global frameworks such as SWA that focus on nationally owned action offer a model that can make a real impact on people’s lives. Johnson Sirleaf, Yudhoyono and Cameron have a key role to play to set a post-2015 agenda that really matters to people’s daily lives. Rio+20 is a good place to start building on such initiatives.

Read the original article here

Global banking giant HSBC has announced a five-year, $100 million partnership with WaterAidWWF, and the Earthwatch Institute to improve sanitation and access to safe water for more than a million people, tackle water risks in the world's major river basins, and raise awareness about the global water challenge.

The launch of the HSBC Water Program coincides with the release of a report by Frontier Economics, which found that every $1 invested in water infrastructure can deliver nearly $5 in economic benefits over the long term, in addition to social and environmental benefits. Frontier estimates that in some African countries the investment required to secure universal access to water would be paid back within three years.

Potential annual economic gain from improved access
to water and sanitation as a percentage of GDP

Potential annual economic gain from improved access to water and sanitation as a percentage of GDP

Source: Frontier Economics

The HSBC Water Program will enable the three nonprofit organizations to carry out projects in both developed and emerging markets. For example, WWF will work with more than a thousand businesses and over a hundred thousand fishers and farmers in five river basin areas in Asia, East Africa, and South America to promote the more efficient use of water in their practices. With local conservation partners, Earthwatch will set up research projects to address urban water management issues in more than twenty cities worldwide. WaterAid will work to help 1.1 million people in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ghana gain access to safe water and to help improve hygiene and sanitation for another 1.9 million people.

"The HSBC Water Program will benefit communities in need, and enable economies to prosper," said HSBC group chairman Douglas Flint. "The people of the world's major river basins currently account for about a tenth of world GDP, but by the middle of the century they could account for a quarter. Yet these are also precisely the same places where water resources are set to come under strain. This has the potential to straitjacket growth, at the same time as causing untold harm to local communities."

Source: “HSBC Invests $100m in Water Projects to Improve Lives and Boost Economic Development.” HSBC Group Press Release 6/13/12.

For additional WASH-related philanthropy news, see the news feed on

Editor’s Note: This guest post was authored by Alexandra Fielden, policy coordinator for Dispensers for Safe Water at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). In it, she discusses the benefits of IPA’s Chlorine Dispenser System, an innovative water treatment solution, and how the system has been implemented in villages in western Kenya. (Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals involved.)

Caroline, the dispenser promoter in Laban Springs, shows a community member how to use the chlorine dispenser. Credit: Jonathan Kalan

Caroline, the dispenser promoter in Laban Springs, shows a community member how to use the chlorine dispenser. Credit: Jonathan Kalan

Following the death of her daughter, Adimu was left to take care of her HIV-positive granddaughter, Tabia. 

HIV has severely weakened Tabia’s immune system, making her especially vulnerable to waterborne diseases. “She would always need to go to the hospital,” says Adimu, “due to her weak immunity, she suffered from diarrhea regularly.” Visits to the local clinic to treat Tabia’s diarrhea were costly, uncomfortable, and time-consuming. 

But since IPA’s Chlorine Dispenser System was set up in her community in Khasolo, western Kenya, Tabia has experienced far fewer cases of diarrhea and she is doing extremely well in school. “Chlorine has improved my granddaughter’s health since she no longer suffers from diarrhea,” says Adimu, with a smile.

In poor rural areas where constructing piped water systems are prohibitively expensive, the government and donor response has generally been to fund new water sources such as wells or boreholes.  

However, this approach fails to ensure the safety of water during transportation and storage at the home. Because of unhygienic water collection behaviors and unsafe storage practices, re-contamination presents a major challenge in many settings. A study in western Kenya showed that spring protection led to a 66 percent reduction in fecal contamination at the water source, but the reductions were only 24 percent in water stored in people’s homes. 

One inexpensive, safe, and effective option to improve water quality while protecting against re-contamination is to treat water with chlorine using IPA’s innovative Chlorine Dispenser System.

Installed at a communal water source, users simply turn a valve on the dispenser to release a metered dose of chlorine into their jerricans, which they then fill with water as usual. The chlorine mixes with the water and kills the germs that cause many diarrheal diseases. The chlorine provides protection from recontamination for up to 48 hours, and achieves an average diarrhea reduction of 41 percent.

Five-and-a-half miles northeast of Adimu and Tabia’s village lies Laban Springs, another community with access to the Chlorine Dispenser System. Here, Caroline explains that “the dispenser is easy to use, and being next to the water source reminds you to use it.” To encourage adoption, IPA partners with community volunteers, like Caroline, who serve as “dispenser promoters.” They work to educate the community about the dangers of contaminated water, to encourage use of the technology, and to ensure that a consistent supply of chlorine is available. 

Results from a randomized trial in western Kenya documented that the CDS increases chlorine use six-fold compared to the existing approach of selling small bottles of chlorine through retail outlets. In target communities, preliminary studies showed that 50-61 percent of households had sustained detectable chlorine levels in household drinking water during unannounced visits over 3 years after CDS implementation, compared to 6-14 percent with access to the standard retail model. 

A majority of the funding for CDS programs to date has been provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition, some early funding commitments were made by local governments in Kenya, the Kenyan Ministry of Education, and a Kenyan water services board for CDS pilot projects. The World Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, as well as private foundations and individuals, have also contributed to start-up costs of the program.

Over the last several years, Dispensers for Safe Water (DSW) has been working in close collaboration with national ministries and local governments, as well as non-governmental organizations, to implement its programs in Kenya. Together, DSW and its partners have installed enough dispensers to provide access to safe water for more than 400,000 people across western Kenya.

DSW conducts regular spot checks to monitor the condition of the dispenser and its source, and to test that the dispenser is stocked with chlorine at the correct concentration and quality. In addition, the selection of responsible dispenser promoters and set-up of a local “hotline” for communities to report issues ensure that problems with the dispenser hardware are rapidly identified and remedied. 

In 2012, DSW will continue to work with its partners to expand dispenser coverage; to pilot dispensers in other high-priority regions of Kenya; and to explore new areas where dispensers could lead to a significant reduction in diarrheal disease rates.  

DSW also works in Haiti, Somalia, India, Bangladesh, Swaziland, and Uganda, and continues to explore the possibilities for piloting and scaling up dispensers in a number of target countries in sub-Saharan Africa. DSW aims to provide access to safe water for millions of people like Adimu, Tabia, and Caroline through the innovative Chlorine Dispenser System, a Proven Impact Initiative at IPA. To find out more, contact Dispensers for Safe Water:

Editor’s Note: This guest post was authored by Brian Banks, director of sustainability for Global Water Challenge. In it, he discusses the WASH Sustainability Charter and the results of a recent survey that asked WASH stakeholders to assess their effectiveness in implementing sustainability principles.

A Rwandan girl collects improved water from a source with ongoing financing in place to ensure sustainability. Credit: Global Water Challenge

A Rwandan girl collects improved water from a source with ongoing financing in place to ensure sustainability. Credit: Global Water Challenge

WASH Sustainability and the Charter

If you’ve been to the web site of nearly any WASH organization, you’ve seen powerful pictures of how water can change lives. Whether in a school, a clinic, or a community, few things are as moving as the images of the first sip of clean, safe water. Pictures perfectly portray the ribbon-cutting, the first glass of water, and the smiling community. 

If you’ve ever traveled around Africa, you’ve probably seen what sometimes happens next: broken pumps, leaking pipes, and unrealized potential. As many as 50% of water interventions fail, leaving communities without water and squandering much of the limited donor funding that flows into the WASH sector. 

Thankfully, donors, implementers, and other WASH stakeholders are mobilizing to rise to this challenge through the framework of the WASH Sustainability Charter. The Charter is the culmination of a 6-month process involving input from over 100 organizations from across the WASH spectrum and around the world. The development of this common statement of principles is a major step toward improving the way the WASH sector ensures lasting service provision. This document advances the sector by establishing best practices and promoting sustainability efforts. Since the launch of the Charter in July 2011, the response has been tremendous: Nearly 100 organizations of all shapes and sizes have endorsed the Charter and committed to strive toward its principles in the key areas of Strategy and Planning, Governance and Accountability, Service Delivery Support, Financial Management, and Reporting and Knowledge-Sharing. 

While this commitment is a step in the right direction, it is still only the first step. 

WASH Sustainability Survey — Building a Baseline

To continue building upon this foundation, Global Water Challenge (GWC) and Deloitte LLP designed and conducted the WASH Sustainability Survey, asking WASH stakeholders to assess their effectiveness in implementing the Charter. Understanding where we are coming from is an important next step to fueling improvements in the sector. The full report is available here

With nearly 50 respondents, the survey results provide a baseline for WASH stakeholders, and a roadmap for continued improvement throughout the sector. Several broad trends were apparent, such as the importance of continued improvement in the areas of education, capacity building, and training. This finding supports the need for a specific focus on long-term education and knowledge exchange among stakeholders to foster sustainable WASH solutions.

A Way Forward on Sustainability

Looking more closely, several specific opportunities for progress emerge. First, the survey clearly demonstrated that stakeholders share a need for improved financial management in projects, particularly in relation to project life-cycle financial planning.

Additionally, almost 50% of respondents identified sharing data and lessons learned as a priority area for improvement, along with the use of improved metrics. This is directly aligned with the WASH Sustainability Charter, as well as the current development of a new sustainability hub. (The interim site at currently provides resources from sustainability events, recordings of the WASH Sustainability Webinar Series, and information about other sustainability initiatives.)

Lastly, the study outlined the critical nature of ensuring alignment and fostering conversation between implementers and non-implementing stakeholders. For example, while many non-implementing organizations identified “aligning… planning efforts with other stakeholders” as a principle most in need of improvement, very few implementers identified the same. This type of discrepancy demonstrates the varying priorities between implementers and non-implementers, as well as the clear need for continued collaboration among stakeholders. 

Overall, the survey findings suggest several clear next steps:

  • Financial management is one of the more difficult challenges of sustainability. The sector needs to collaborate in order to develop robust tools and methodologies to beat this challenge.
  • As organizations become more committed to sustainability, including monitoring and evaluation, it becomes ever more important to find ways to effectively and consistently measure performance, while also meaningfully sharing data and information. By doing this, we will be able to truly advance as a sector.
  • Sustainability is not just a donor’s problem, nor is it only an implementer’s problem: It is everyone’s responsibility. To improve the sector, everyone — donors, implementers, and recipient communities — will need to work collaboratively to improve sustainability. 

GWC, with many of our partners, is continuing to empower organizations to address the sustainability challenges facing our sector. Keep an eye on over the coming months for new assessment tools, sustainability resources, and insightful discussions.

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