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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 WASHfunders.org.

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