22 March 2006

Social Entrepreneurs: Good Idea for World Water Day, The WaterCredit Initiative

What's wrong with these numbers:
Estimated number of people without access to clean, safe drinking water: 1.1 billion;
Bottled water industry value: $22 billion per year, 41 billion gallons;
Estimated cost to halve number of people lacking clean water access: $15 billion per year.

Doesn't add up?

Not much about the global water crisis does make sense. Especially for Americans, who have ready access to tap water, yet spend over $9M on bottled water and 26 billion gallons consumed. Well, the people at WaterPartners International are developing new ways to solve the global water crisis, creating opportunities for people to solve their own water supply problems in a sustainable way.

Their latest innovation is the WaterCredit Initiative™. Through this initiative, which marries donor dollars with microcredit, they provide poor communities access to credit and the capital necessary to construct water projects in their own communities. The communities borrow the money they need to create solutions today and then pay it off over time.

According to Stephanie Holbrook, at Fleishman-Hillard, who brought this to my attention, "WaterPartners supported its first water project in 1990 in Honduras. The communities we help already pay a portion of the cost of their water system, usually up front. With WaterCredit, communities may choose to spread that payment out over time through a loan. Repaid loan funds can be used again for additional projects, bringing clean water to more and more people in need."

WaterPartners' vision is for a day "when everyone in the world can take a safe drink of water." This new program will help them reach this vision even faster, by using market mechanisms and microcredit to leverage donor dollars. To learn more, check out their web site: water.org

Here are more water facts from WaterPartners International:

1.1 billion people lack access to improved water supply and 2.4 billion to improved sanitation. The number of people who lack access to improved water supply could increase to 2.3 billion by 2025.

Of all water on earth, 97.5% is salt water, and of the remaining 2.5% fresh water, some 70% is frozen in the polar icecaps. The other 30% is mostly present as soil moisture or lies in underground aquifers.

Less than 1% of the world's fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human uses. In other words, if all the earth's water fit in a gallon jug, available fresh water would equal just over a tablespoon.

A person can live about a month without food, but only about a week without water; a person needs 4 to 5 gallons of water per day to survive.

The average American individual uses 100 to 176 gallons of water at home each day; the average African family: about 5 gallons each day.

More than 200 million hours are spent each day by women and female children to collect water from distant, often polluted sources.

And here's another fresh(water) idea for World Water Day: How much did the bottled water you drank today, this week, or this month cost? Buy a filter for your tap and donate the difference to WaterPartners International today.

Photo: Ten year-old A. Maherwari drinks from new water system in her town of Keelakarthigaipatti, India. Credit: Gary White, WaterPartners International

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank god for clean water ....