Accelerating access to safe water and sanitation
The global water and sanitation crisis is pervasive, urgent and debilitating to those affected. About 780 million people lack access to any clean water source, and 2.5 billion people lack proper sanitation. The human toll takes many forms, the most awful being that three children die every minute for lack of safe water or sanitation.
South Asia bears more than its share of the crisis. In India alone, more than 97 million people lack access to safe drinking water, while more than 800 million have no hygienic sanitation facilities such as toilets. A significant proportion of people who live in poor households in the region, however, including those in urban and peri-urban informal settlements, have shown the willingness and ability to pay for access to clean water and sanitation when these are made available and affordable.
A model developed by Water.org, WaterCredit is premised on the idea that many people in the developing world can finance their own access to safe water and sanitation if they can pay for these services over time and have a voice in their development and operation. It builds on existing systems of microfinance in the countries where it is offered, the bankability of the poor and people’s innate desire to improve their lives and health.
With support from the Swiss Re Foundation, in this project Water.org and its local partners are expanding WaterCredit by rolling out two new complementary WaterCredit programmes that provide poor households in Bangalore, India and the Philippines with access to loans to meet their water and sanitation needs. This approach gives Water.org’s local partners an opportunity to develop and launch loan products specifically to meet local households’ water, sanitation and hygiene needs, such as building a water connection and/or toilet in the home. It also enables more effective deployment of philanthropic capital and empowers poor households to access capital and decide how to use it to finance the water and sanitation solutions they need most.
In addition, Water.org trains participating households in financial and budget management so they can responsibly take out and repay the loans, offers clients training sessions and time with technology experts to learn about appropriate water and sanitation options, launches community mobilisation programmes to provide basic loan management training to women’s savings and self-help groups and disseminates key hygiene and health information.
GOALS AND EXPECTED IMPACT
Since September of 2014, the Swiss Re Foundation and Water.org have partnered to bring safe water and sanitation to low-income families by scaling up and expanding WaterCredit in India and the Philippines. Today, the initiative is ahead of schedule to empower more than 67 000 people with access to safe water and/or sanitation by September 2018. Below are the specific targets by country:
- One to two local partners will be selected, vetted and trained to design and deliver affordable financial products (microloans) for water supply and sanitation (WSS) needs at the base of the economic pyramid (BOP)
- 25 000 people will gain access to improved safe water and/or sanitation solutions such as household-level water connections, toilets and/or rainwater harvesting tanks
- Local partners will mobilise USD $1 000 000 in commercial capital to provide microloans for water and/or sanitation improvements
- At least two local partners will be certified and trained to successfully design and deliver affordable financial products (microloans) for WSS needs at the BOP
- An estimated 47 250 people will gain access to improved safe water and/or sanitation solutions
- Local partners will mobilise US $1 250 000 in commercial capital