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Editor's Note: In this post, Charles Nimako, Ghana Country Director at Safe Water Network discusses innovative approaches around financing and partnerships to improve access to sustainable safe water. 

At least 8 million people in Ghana lack reliable access to clean water every day. As the world raises the bar for development with the Sustainable Development Goals, shifting our indicators from number of water points to sustainable access over time, our government recognizes the need for innovative approaches to fill the gap.

Charles Nimako, Country Director, and Kurt Soderlund, CEO, Safe Water Network, talk with Hon. Sampson Ahi (MP), Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Water Resources, at the opening session.

Charles Nimako, Country Director, and Kurt Soderlund, CEO, Safe Water Network, talk with Hon. Sampson Ahi (MP), Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Water Resources, at the opening session.

Safe Water Network’s recent Beyond the Pipe forum in Accra focused on innovative approaches around financing and partnerships, two key areas Safe Water Network Ghana has prioritized in improving access to sustainable safe water. These topics brought such influential guests as Hon. Sampson Ahi, Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Ekow Coleman, Senior Investment Officer from the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund and Mr Kwasi Osei, Managing partner of Prizm Capital Partners.

My opening presentation put a spotlight on the Ghana Water Enterprise Trust, a proposed funding mechanism that Safe Water Network will develop with government and private sector stakeholders to address the financing gap for off-grid community water systems, and improve financial stewardship for our increasing portfolio of water Stations and subStations.

The Trust will be developed in two stages – first as a mechanism under which Safe Water Network will continue to own and operate water Stations, under the original Build-Operate-Transfer agreements, and manage them as a portfolio under improved operational oversight; and second as a Trust that will eventually grow into an independent, Ghana-based entity to secure significant amounts of capital with blended sources of financing.

Trust structures, public-private partnerships (PPPs) and pooled funds have been used to attract capital to scale interventions in different sectors around the world.  Our PPP initiative will come to life with a pilot in Danfa, located 20 kilometres outside Ghana’s capital, Accra. This community is a strong candidate for a market-based decentralized service that will expand the existing infrastructure given the relatively high population density; an average per person income of GHS 12 (USD 3) per day; access to grid power; rapid urbanization; and experience in paying for water. I look forward to reporting back on the Danfa pilot, which is scheduled to kick off in Q3 2016.

It will take time to structure the Trust in a robust way, with accounting and control systems that can be audited regularly, and a diverse governing board. The lively discussion among our 80 forum participants highlighted important issues like how  the Trust would affect local ownership and  how the Trust would structure contractual agreements with outside organizations for financial, operational and management responsibilities during the second phase. Participants also discussed how Safe Water Network would manage its brand, H2OME, under the Trust.

Safe Water Network and its advisors and partners will work through these issues over the next year. Each forum builds on the previous year’s discussions, but of course the lessons come from the practical, hands-on work we do all year round. The issues we address are focused on Ghana but general lessons are applicable elsewhere, such as India where Safe Water Network has just launched its 126th iJal water Station.

We’ve been hosting the forum in Ghana for four straight years, and it continues to grow as a leading platform for the market-based approach for community water supply. This year’s Forum was a timely event, taking place just a few days ahead of World Water Day, which this year celebrated the impact of water on jobs and livelihoods. Water solutions that work are essential to all livelihoods — restaurant owner, farmer, schoolteacher and doctor alike – and we celebrate the power of these solutions every day.

We look forward to celebrating the power of water that works throughout the year. In August, we will host a session at Stockholm International Water Week on practical solutions for small water enterprises in India, showcasing tools that allow a broad range of stakeholders, from entrepreneurs to government, do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

If you’d like to connect with us on how to get involved, please contact Joseph Ampadu-Boakye, Program Manager. 

Editor's Note: In this post, Brian Banks, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Global Water Challenge at the Global Environment & Technology Foundation, discusses five key ways that funders can use the new Water Point Data Exchange to improve the impact of their WASH investments.


With the recent launch of the new web platform for the Water Point Data Exchange, many funders are wondering what this means for them and how they can use it to increase the impact of WASH investments. For those who aren’t yet familiar, the Water Point Data Exchange (WPDx) is the global framework for sharing water point data. Launched in May 2015, this framework is based on the information that is already being collected around the world, ensuring that there is no additional burden on data providers to share information. To date, WPDx has brought together nearly 250,000 records around the world spanning almost 100 years of investment. The new web platform makes it easier than ever for funders to access this data and use the information to improve the impact of their investments. Here are five ways you can start to use the new WPDx platform today:

  • Identify partners and local experts
    • By using WPDx to find who else has implemented projects in a certain area or country, you can easily identify partners for collaboration. This can help to avoid duplication and increase impact through partnerships that leverage the unique skills of different stakeholders. Information on who is working where can also be filtered by date so that you can identify what stakeholders have developed expertise over time in a specific location, or even those that were there in the past. Connecting with these partners can facilitate the sharing of lessons and challenges, allowing your funding to build off of the investments that have come before. You can see an example of the different groups that have shared data over time for Tanzania here.
  • Explore the sustainability of different types of investments
    • WPDx allows you to see what types of investments have worked well, and what types of investments have been less successful. This could even be as simple as comparing how well different types of technologies have provided water over time in a certain area. You can also use the WPDx data as a starting point, and compare the impact of different types of policies on sustainability, or even the durability of investments in areas with different geological and socioeconomic conditions. The recent integration of WPDx data into the World Bank’s “Spatial Agent” application allows you to easily and beautifully layer WPDx data directly onto thousands of different data sets. This makes it possible to draw an incredible wealth of lessons about what works well at the click of a button. You can download Spatial Agent here.
  • See where needs are the greatest
    • Through the data available in WPDx, funders can target investments to where the needs are greatest and define the type of investment that might be most effective. Does the region you want to fund have a low functionality rate? If so, perhaps your investment will go further by supporting governance, asset management, and maintenance capacity than it would drilling another borehole. Are almost all water points working in a certain area? That might suggest that additional hardware could achieve a lasting impact. You can see a breakdown of functionality by province in Afghanistan here.
  • Share your data (and track it)
    • Funders are making massive investments in water infrastructure. While those investments will certainly create change on their own, sharing the information about that infrastructure can allow for an even greater impact. By providing governments, NGOs, researchers, and other funders with information about water points constructed as a result of your investments, all development partners can work better together. Encouraging grantees to share water point data with governments and through WPDx is a quick and cost-effective way to multiply the influence of your funding. As an added benefit, you can subscribe to updates on these water points, and get a notification any time data about them is updated, even from different sources!
  • Engage with governments and other stakeholders
    • WPDx should be the start of a conversation, not the end. Discuss the information you got from WPDx with governments, service providers, NGOs, and other funders, and get their perspectives. Ultimately, WPDx is most effective when used as part of a broader engagement with all partners. 

Editor's Note: What do we mean when we talk about effective collaboration? In this post, Neil Jeffery, CEO of Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), discusses how WSUP uses collaboration as a lens to frame its work and define its role in the broader sector. 

In discussions around how the SDG targets for water and sanitation can be achieved, ‘collaboration’ is often cited as the key: collaboration between the public and private sectors; between NGOs based in the same country; between local service providers and international NGOs; between national governments and multilateral finance institutions; even between funders. And of course this is absolutely correct. The WASH space is constantly evolving, with actors of all shapes and sizes striving to make a contribution: unless these actors proactively coordinate their activities, much of their effort will go to waste.

In WSUP’s view, effective collaboration begins with every organisation understanding their role in the wider WASH ecosystem. What exactly will be your contribution, and what implications does that have for who you choose to collaborate with? How can you structure your activities to achieve maximum impact within your sphere your influence? These are questions that require constant reflection, and in this blog we set out some of WSUP’s thinking on the role that agile and highly specialised WASH organisations can play within the wider sector.

Step one: demonstrate what works

Our organization - Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) – was established to address a specific and growing aspect of the global WASH challenge. The urbanization of developing countries is a leading global trend, with more and more people projected to migrate to urban centers in coming decades. Many of these people have no choice but to move into low-income settlements: since 1990, the number of people living in slum settlements worldwide has increased from 650 million to 863 million. Access to safe water and improved sanitation is failing to keep pace with this explosive growth, and urban WASH service providers are – understandably – struggling to keep up.

WSUP’s contribution begins by forming close partnerships with local service providers and offering technical assistance to help bridge the capacity gap. Take water supply: many urban water utilities are motivated to extend services to low-income areas of the city, but lack knowledge, expertise and support in taking the required steps. Low-income communities have unique characteristics and water supply to these areas can’t be approached in the same way as for the rest of the city. WSUP aims to demonstrate the range of options that are available for a utility in extending services to these areas, encompassing both technological innovations (for example, pre-paid water meters) and innovative organisational and contractual models (for example, setting up a dedicated unit within the utility with responsibility for serving low-income areas, or delegating water supply to these areas to a small-scale private operator). Many utilities will either not be aware of these innovative service delivery models, or will lack the knowledge to implement them effectively. Doing so can have an enormous impact both on the lives of low-income consumers and on the commercial viability of the utility.

In sanitation the capacity gap is arguably even greater: organisations like WSUP have a vital role to play in demonstrating the menu of services required to achieve improved sanitation at scale in low-income urban environments, ranging from improved sanitation facilities (e.g. communal sanitation blocks, as implemented by WSUP and the municipality, CMM, in Maputo) to the provision of complete faecal sludge management (FSM) systems to safely empty, treat and dispose of faecal waste. One example is the FSM service recently established by WSUP and Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) in the low-income areas of Kanyama and Chazanga – one of the first safe FSM systems to be introduced in Africa that is targeted at and funded by low-income customers.

Step two: take it to scale

We all know that when it comes to providing sustainable water and sanitation solutions, ‘taking it to scale’ is the most challenging part. This is where an organisation like WSUP must at all times remain cognisant of its unique and special role within the wider ecosystem. WSUP is not positioned to directly roll-out service delivery models to millions of low-income consumers. Our role is to demonstrate what is possible at a representative scale within a city, then to target and enable those institutions with A) the mandate and B) the capital to facilitate pro-poor service improvements at the citywide and ultimately the national level. Of course, that means working closely with local businesses and mandated service providers, but it also means working alongside multilateral finance institutions like the World Bank, to bring money into the sector and to improve the targeting of investment.

As WSUP has matured as an organisation, we have understood ever more clearly our place in the wider ecosystem, and the ways in which we can maximise the impact of our activities on the lives of low-income consumers. We believe the improved targeting of IFI investment is a critical component of the urban WASH jigsaw. About US$5 billion is committed annually by the major development banks for urban water and sanitation projects across the world – the majority of which aims to improve access for all citizens of towns and cities - but the reality is that the poorest consumers often don’t benefit. Highly specialised organisations like WSUP have a real contribution to make in supporting the World Bank - and other major funders - to demonstrate ways in which such investments can be designed and delivered which are both commercially viable and pro-poor.

WSUP is already having a significant impact in the area of influencing investment. One example is our partnership with JIRAMA, the national water utility in Madagascar. WSUP has supported JIRAMA in developing a Non-revenue water (NRW) reduction programme in Antananarivo, which has helped strengthen the utility’s revenue generation to the extent that the programme is now being scaled-up to the national level. In addition, the World Bank has seen the impact of JIRAMA’s efforts to extend the water network to low-income urban communities through kiosk connections in Antananarivo, and is now supporting scale-up of the model in a second city, Toliara.

We all have a role to play in coming years as the push towards universal water and sanitation coverage continues. Yes collaboration is key, but we must each begin with a critical analysis of our own offering. We must think laterally and understand the nature of our linkages to other actors in the sector. As an organisation, WSUP is very different to Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company, or to the World Bank – but together we can have quite an impact.


Editor’s Note: This guest blog post was authored by Patrick Moriarty, CEO of IRC. In his piece, Patrick stresses the importance of creating lasting systems to achieving the Global Goals, particularly for providing sanitation and drinking water services. Patrick shares how funders can help grantees transition from service providers to systems builders. A version of this post originally appeared here.

We all know that "he who pays the piper calls the tune" - but what if the tune is the wrong one for the times? Can pipers push for new tunes? IRC's CEO Patrick Moriarty thinks so.

On September 25, 2015, 193 world leaders committed to 17 Global Goals. One of them is to provide every human on the planet with sanitation and drinking water services. To achieve this we not only need to get sanitation services to 2.6 billion people who currently don't have them - but also to make sure that once received the services work forever.

People who work on the frontline know that building new toilets using charitable money isn't the answer. There's not enough charitable or aid money in the world, and outsiders lack the skills and local market knowledge to ever create something sustainable. So the solution lies not in building new toilets as charitable outsiders, but in building the local systems that can provide sanitation services. Systems that are led by national governments while drawing on the skills of national businesses and citizens organizations to actually provide the services.

Put simply, International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) have to stop being service providers and become systems builders. To do that, we need our donors and supporters to make this change with us.


Photo credit: IRC

Slow, messy and transformative vs. quick, measurable and trivial
"We know that what they're paying us to do is wrong, they do too - but it's where they want to put their bloody money anyway:" (nameless INGO colleague)

More and more sanitation (and drinking water) organizations emphasize the need to support system strengthening. They get that if we just keep doing what we're doing, we'll never reach everyone by 2030. And more seriously, even if we do reach billions of people, progress won't be sustainable with only aid funding.

Yet the bulk of aid money continues to flow to projects delivering new taps and toilets.

This is not surprising given that boards of philanthropies and national parliaments want hard numbers of "people we've helped", numbers that aren't easily extracted from messy and notoriously difficult to measure processes of systems strengthening. The challenge then is how to sell this critical work to either the no-nonsense business people who make up the boards of philanthropies, or parliamentarians representing aid-fatigued voters who want to know that their taxes are being well spent.

Honest donors that challenge themselves
For INGOs to move away from building toilets to building systems capable of providing sanitation services, donors too have to change - and there are positive signs of this. Visionary foundations like the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Osprey Foundation are supporting a systems building agenda. The onus is on INGO's to find ways to encourage more donors to follow - in part by findings answers to the entirely legitimate requirement for clear measurement of impact. We need to show it works. We need to show that stronger systems deliver better water and sanitation services. We need to provide answers to questions like: How can we show progress? How can we evidence efficiency and effectiveness over time? This is something that many of us are already engaged in, but it undoubtedly needs further work.

But there's also an onus on donors to be honest with and challenge themselves. To accept that however big they are, their financial contribution is trivial in comparison to the need and ambition set out in the SDGs. They must ask themselves challenging questions about their organizational theories of change, which in non-development jargon means: how can their contributions impact on billions rather than a few thousand? How can they work together with other donors to achieve bigger collective impact and trigger the transformation needed at local and national level to ensure that everyone, everywhere will have access to sanitation service... forever.

How we can make change today
The good news is, we can start to change the way we work by building national systems today. With our partners Aguaconsult, WaterAid and Water for People we've developed a global Agenda for Change with guiding principles. Our ask to both our fellow INGOs and donors (not just our own - but all people who fund work in sanitation and drinking water) is simple but challenging:

1. Join us in the work of system building - district by district, country by country. Share our vision of a world where everyone has access to toilets, a world where aid or charity are not needed to provide sanitation services indefinitely.

2. Accept that the road to change will be long, expensive and messy - and that it will sometimes be difficult to share quick results or explain exactly which share of the change is directly attributable to you. Rather: understand that you are part of an unprecedented movement that changes the world.

3. Hold us - as implementers - to account: demand that we develop the tools and numbers not only to build national systems, but to do so effectively and with evidence. At the same time, provide your boards and ministers and parliamentarians with the data that they rightly demand.

We're convinced that it is only by fundamentally changing and strengthening the national systems that deliver water and sanitation services in a country, that the SDG ambition to achieve sanitation (and water) for everyone will be achieved by 2030. It starts with leadership, from donors and INGO's, challenging lazy assumptions that doing what we have always done has any chance of real success. There is another tune for the piper to play and its time to dance to it.

Find out more and join us:

Or get in touch!

#GlobalGoals #Agenda4change

Follow Patrick Moriarty on Twitter:

Editor’s Note: This post was co-authored by Carlos Hurtado, Manager of Sustainable Management of Water, and Priscilla Treviño, Head of Evaluation, Strategic Planning and Research, at FEMSA Foundation. FEMSA Foundation is the corporate foundation of FEMSA, a conglomerate that operates throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines and is the largest independent bottler of Coca Cola in the world, the owner of a fast-growing convenience store chain in Latin American, and a shareholder of Heineken.For over five years, FEMSA Foundation’s approach to corporate social investment has supported projects and research in the water and nutrition sector.

Investing in the social and environmental sector is not only a responsibility of the business sector; it is also strategic. This guiding principle provides the basis for FEMSA Foundation’s approach towards social investment.

Decision-making for increased effectiveness and efficiency

During a field visit as part of the design evaluation for Water Links in Honduras. In the photograph: Priscilla Treviño and Gabriela Torres (FEMSA Foundation), Iris Pineda (Auditor from KPMG Honduras) and Gisela Contreras (Water For People Honduras). Credit: Elias Assaf (Water For People Honduras)

During a field visit as part of the design evaluation for Water Links in Honduras. In the photograph: Priscilla Treviño and Gabriela Torres (FEMSA Foundation), Iris Pineda (Auditor from KPMG Honduras) and Gisela Contreras (Water For People Honduras). Credit: Elias Assaf (Water For People Honduras)

A corporate foundation has an interesting asset: familiarity with business-based practices and skills. Many of these skills and practices are useful for reducing uncertainty, increasing the likelihood of success, and identifying risks and opportunities for improvement for project design. Drawing on these strengths of the business sector, over the last year FEMSA Foundation has developed and piloted various tools to improve the decision-making processes related to its work in the social sector. One of the most useful has been an outcome and impact forecast methodology that the Foundation has developed for WASH projects.

In the WASH sector, as well as in many other social sectors, anticipating and quantifying the effects of a project is challenging. Diverse intervention strategies are deployed in different and evolving contexts which makes comparisons difficult. However, by making use of forecasting techniques similar to those employed by the business sector, FEMSA Foundation has found that the expected effects of WASH interventions over time can be described and quantified.

FEMSA's conceptual framework for WASH

The conceptual framework developed by FEMSA Foundation as the basis for health effect forecasting. Data drawn from empirical literature and fieldwork research is used for estimating effect sizes on various expected outcomes. Using forecasting techniques, depending on the characteristics of an intervention planned (in red and blue), the expected effect size will vary. Combined with economic valuation techniques, forecasts enable cost-benefit analysis.

As a result of this methodology, FEMSA Foundation has identified triggers of success and social value for WASH projects. One of those is the social insertion component of a project which, based on data, impacts the sustainability of an intervention in the field. Specifically, community participation in decision-making processes, economic contributions from water users to install and sustain water access and infrastructure, and the training of water committees are now part of FEMSA Foundation’s strategy. Over 75% of the Foundation’s total investment in 2013 -- channeled towards various partners such as the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA), Habitat for Humanity and the Avina Foundation -- is now backed up by a strong social insertion component. This has led to important efficiency gains. Under the enhanced social insertion strategy, average costs associated with community fieldwork have increased by 23%, but economically valuated benefits have increased by more than 60%.

Collaboration within the social sector

The gap between NGOs, with experience getting things done on the ground, and institutions with technical expertise useful for planning, implementing, and assessing an intervention can be wide. The Foundation is working towards narrowing this gap between the social sector and other actors interested in tackling social and environmental problems.

Over the past year, FEMSA Foundation has worked closely with social sector organizations, academic partners and business leaders to unify visions and to leverage strengths and expertise for the improved design and management of social projects. One of these projects is Water Links, FEMSA Foundation’s flagship program for WASH service delivery. Water Links is co-financed by MWA and Coca Cola Latin America and operates in México, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia and Nicaragua, where it will benefit more than 110,000 people by 2015.

A hygiene promotion exercise in La Guajira, Colombia conducted together with beneficiaries meant to create awareness regarding waste disposal practices. Credit: Francesca Moschini (Aguayuda)

A hygiene promotion exercise in La Guajira, Colombia conducted together with beneficiaries meant to create awareness regarding waste disposal practices. Credit: Francesca Moschini (Aguayuda)

As a regional and inter-institutional program, Water Links is an outstanding opportunity for exploring various approaches towards WASH-related challenges. Initially, the evaluation strategy for Water Links was set around traditional reporting back to the donor. However, because FEMSA Foundation is committed to improving its decision-making processes, there was strong support for the translation of the initial evaluation model into a framework that was sufficiently sound to identify solutions for WASH-related challenges and yet appropriate to deploy in the field. FEMSA Foundation facilitated this change of vision by mapping information needs for comprehensive learning, providing guidelines for data analysis based in business-oriented practices, and offering technical expertise to enrich the evaluation model. Water Links also engaged with academia to address the benefits to the WASH sector and redesign instruments for data gathering. Finally, technical insight from MWA, the organization that works most closely on project implementation, ensured that the strategy proposed considered the challenges and realities faced in the field.

As a result of this collaboration, Water Links now has a sound monitoring, evaluation and learning model (MEL Framework). The Framework aims to capture relevant findings from the ground during the lifetime of the program through a continuous cycle of activities and instruments that will document the effectiveness of various WASH models of interventions, revealing good practices and pointing out implementation challenges.

The MEL Framework

Figure above exhibits the different stages that shape the continuous cycle of monitoring, evaluation and learning for Water Links meant to capture and translate data into a change of practice.

The MEL Framework, which is set to begin its activities on the ground in May, 2014, has turned Water Links into much more than the materials and activities paid for and implemented on field. It is now a program that is able to evolve to ensure sustainable benefits as well as an instrument to learn from and transform the way FEMSA Foundation and other interested actors work for the better. 

One Drop and Water For People have announced a strategic partnership to end water and sanitation poverty in India's Sheohar district.

To that end, Water For People and One Drop will invest $5.8 million and $5 million, respectively, over five years to increase the scale and impact of their work. Those efforts, which are expected to reach more than 650,000 people by 2018, will leverage One Drop's expertise in sustainable program delivery with Water For People's local connections and experience in providing market-based solutions, comprehensive hygiene education, and district-wide water coverage.

"We share the belief that sustainability and economic empowerment are the foundation of international development," said One Drop CEO Catherine B. Bachand. "This partnership will demonstrate ways the water sector can collaborate to increase the return on investment of funding and, ultimately, achieve the mutual goal of delivering sustainable solutions at scale."

"ONE DROP and Water for People Join Forces to Develop Sustainable Programming to End Water and Sanitation Poverty." One Drop Press Release 02/27/2014. 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Sierra Leone and Liberia were devastated by civil wars that lasted until about ten years ago. Coming out of the shadow of these conflicts has been a long and slow process. Lack of infrastructure and basic water and sanitation services continue to plague communities.

Over the last few years, WaterAid has been working with local partners to provide safe water and sanitation in particularly hard-to-reach communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone. We interviewed WaterAid’s team leader for Sierra Leone and Liberia, Apollos Nwafor, as part of our “Flip” chat series. Watch the video to learn about the unique challenges of implementing WASH services in two post-conflict countries.

Figuring out which communities to target is the first step in the implementation process. Apollos describes WaterAid’s use of baseline data to determine which communities are the poorest and decide how to prioritize them. Establishing indicators and metrics from the start is also key to understanding the effectiveness of services.

Apollos further explains that to effect systemic change, WaterAid works with governments to strengthen policies, build capacity, and stimulate institutional reform. Emphasizing cross-sectors collaboration, he highlights the many areas that WASH services touch: from health to agriculture to women’s empowerment and livelihoods. To him, WASH services are not just about bringing water to a village, but about eradicating poverty and developing communities.

How does your organization approach funding WASH services? Are there lessons learned you can share about funding WASH services that target marginalized communities? Leave us a note in the comments section. 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have partnered to set up a joint trust fund to improve access to sanitation in Asia and the Pacific. Announced at World Water Week, the new Sanitation Financing Partnership Trust Fund will receive a $15 million investment from the Gates Foundation and will leverage more than $28 million in investments from ADB by 2017.

The Trust Fund aims to increase non-sewered sanitation and develop septage management solutions through funding innovative projects and supporting policies for low-income urban communities across Asia. The Trust Fund will be part of ADB’s Water Financing Partnership Facility (WFPF). Over the last seven years, WFPF has invested $2.5 billion in WASH projects. Through initiatives such as Grand Challenges Exploration and Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, the Gates Foundation has funded 85 development and research projects on sanitation.

View the infographic to learn about the Trust Fund’s goals.

Read ADB’s press release for additional details. 

Water for Breakfast

The WASH Grantmakers’ Network, along with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, will co-host the fourth annual peer‐to‐peer breakfast dialogue on innovative grantmaking in the global safe drinking water, sanitation, and health sector called Water for Breakfast. The event will include guests from Xylem Watermark, Procter & Gamble, the Veolia Foundation, the Avina Foundation, and others. 

Water for Breakfast 
Best and Promising Grantmaking Practices in the Global Water and Sanitation Sector 
Wednesday, September 25th, 7:30AM – 9:30AM 
Breakfast at 7:30AM, meeting starts promptly at 8AM 
Midtown Manhattan, New York, NY

This off‐the‐record, invitation-only conversation will provide current and potential grantmakers an opportunity to:

  • Meet other private and corporate philanthropic leaders in the global safe drinking water, sanitation, and health sector
  • Learn from experts on better collaboration, leveraging of public relations, and cost-effective giving practices
  • Exchange best, worst, and promising practices in grantmaking
  • Learn about innovations in access to capital and social entrepreneurship
  • Look for collaborative opportunities between and among private and corporate foundations, water sector experts, and the public sector 

At this year’s event, there will be a unique opportunity to discuss new leadership plans for the Network, and special guest speakers who will answer questions surfaced in previous meetings. A full agenda will follow. 

If you are interested in attending the Water for Breakfast event, please contact Ben Mann at or 571-225-5823.

Editor’s Note: This guest post was authored by Anirudh Rajashekar, business development manager at the World Toilet Organization (WTO). Founded in 2001, the WTO is an international platform for toilet associations, government, academic institutions, foundations, UN agencies and corporate stakeholders to exchange knowledge and leverage media and corporate support in an effort to influence governments to promote clean sanitation and public health policies. Anirudh discusses WTO’s approach to market-based solutions and public private partnerships in this post. 

Kim Un, with wife and 4 daughters, in Kampung Chhnang, Cambodia. Credit: Joy Wong

Kim Un, with wife and 4 daughters, in Kampung Chhnang, Cambodia. Kim Un purchased a SaniShop toilet to ensure the dignity of his family. He believes toilets should be a priority and hopes his toilet will encourage others in his village to invest in one. Credit: Joy Wong

Developing innovative and sustainable market-based approaches to address the sanitation crisis is at the heart of what we do at the World Toilet Organization (WTO). By combining global expertise with local insights, WTO strives to facilitate capacity building, broader understanding and replication of sustainable sanitation solutions. WTO pioneered the creation of SaniShop — a social enterprise that improves sanitation conditions globally by empowering local entrepreneurs. Based on a “social franchise” model that involves training local masons in developing countries to build and sell toilets to their community, SaniShop is now implemented in a diverse range of regions — a marked progress from its humble beginnings in 2008. 

WTO started its market-based approach in collaboration with the University of North Carolina, Lien Aid and IDE in Kampung Speu where it built close to 10,000 household latrines in 2010. In 2012, SaniShop Cambodia tested the market in 7 provinces and has since scaled up in Kampung Chnnang where it has trained close to 60 sales people and 15 SaniShop franchisees. In 2012, the SaniShop ecosystem built 1,800 toilets and we expect that this rate of toilet construction will be financially sustainable in the future in each province. The key value proposition of SaniShop is to create a market for sanitation where there previously is none by facilitating the sale and production of toilets with strict quality control standards and fixed affordable pricing. SaniShop has also begun working in Odisha, India and Vietnam since 2012. In Odisha, WTO collaborated with a social enterprise, eKutir; while in Vietnam, WTO has worked with a large multinational to establish Toilet Academies to train sales persons and masons. 

SaniShop aims to restructure local sanitation marketplaces by encouraging the spirit of entrepreneurship among local communities. Entrepreneurs are able to build, produce and sell toilets to sustain their livelihoods; therefore, SaniShop is not only bridging sanitation gaps but also acts as a catalyst to better a community’s way of life. 

In addition to its SaniShop operations, WTO is currently embarking on two pivotal public-private partnerships to pilot school sanitation projects for communities in South Africa and Nigeria respectively. In South Africa, WTO is working with Unilever to establish the Domestos Toilet Academy (DTA) in KwaZulu Natal. This is the first program that aims to integrate delivery structure to a community by implementing awareness, capacity building and affordable sanitation technology in schools and communities. Currently at the pilot stage, WTO will be implementing a baseline study; this will then be combined with stakeholder analysis to form a basis for implementation and evaluation before replicating across South Africa. In Nigeria, WTO is working on a partnership with Tolaram Foundation (Singapore) to refurbish 4 school toilet buildings in Lagos, Nigeria. This will also include the implementation of health and hygiene programs; the success of these programs will be measured by monitoring and evaluating students’ hygiene habits, health and school attendance. 

At WTO, we are constantly exploring new ways to reach out to the “toiletless” in sustainable ways. For example, WTO is currently researching new means of waste disposal and also new toilet designs that can tackle problematic terrain including areas with high water tables and areas with hard soil. 

WTO has also undertaken a number of projects beyond its market-based model: 

  • Worked with the Lien Foundation to build 30 toilets in 2006 in Hambatotta and Galle, Sri Lanka. Trained 30,000 individuals in ecosan usage.
  • Worked in Aceh, Indonesia following the tsunami after receiving a million dollar grant from the Singapore Red Cross in 2007. Built 7 community toilets in Banda Aceh and 6 in Meulaboh. Trainings for local engineers, contractors and architects were carried out in both cities to strengthen their capacity to design, construct and maintain sustainable sanitation systems in the future.
  • Worked in Trichy, India with Scope to build 10 ecosan toilets.
  • Worked with Lien Aid in Shanxi, China to build a school toilet block with the Chinese Environment Institute and the China Poverty Alleviation Association (CEEP).

We are currently moving towards a holistic, small scale pilot campaign in Bihar, India where WTO will facilitate the construction of toilets with local mason contractors with a goal of 100% sanitation facilities for all villagers. It is expected to be completed by late 2013.  

From our market-based approaches and public-private partnerships in the sanitation field, we have learnt that through collaborative effort significant progress can be made to improve global sanitation conditions. We look forward to furthering WTO’s mission in bringing health, dignity and well-being to all by continuously engaging with donors, partners and stakeholders in the work we do.

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