Toward water and sanitation for all: Featuring Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org
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Last week, on April 20th, Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org, addressed ministers of finance, water, and sanitation from across the world at the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) Finance Ministers’ High Level Meeting at the 2017 World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. The meeting focused on finding ways to fill the enormous financing gap via innovative financial solutions. Mr. Damon urged ministers to consider the full breadth of financing options to achieve the goal of providing safe, affordable, and sustainable water and sanitation for all.
“While there are multiple approaches to solving the challenge of universal access, mobilizing capital is the most pressing and powerful solution,” Mr. Damon said.
The solution lies in leveraging both top-down and bottom-up financing, through the intersection of household level micro-financing and macro level financing, he suggested.
Damon also introduced WaterCredit, a successful innovation by Water.org, and outlined how this has worked to reach over five million people to date. “WaterCredit has enabled households living at the base of the economic pyramid to take out 1.2 million small loans for a toilet or tap.” he said. “The loans have almost no defaults, with a global repayment rate of 99%.”
Damon encouraged the ministers to consider how access to water and sanitation can be income enabling, and recommended that access to safe water can prevent poor people from getting hit by high healthcare costs due to the consumption of unsafe water.
In his closing remarks, Damon proposed that this issue cannot be tackled alone. “We need our partners, the other civil society organizations, your ministries, and private finance to join together to increase efficiency in operations, set appropriate tariffs, and make finance affordable and accessible to those living at the base of the economic pyramid,” he said.
Together we can solve the water and sanitation crisis by 2030.
Matt Damon’s remarks were livestreamed at World Bank Live and you can watch the replay here: http://live.worldbank.org/water-and-sanitation
Water.org's work on affordability is critical to increased access.
Water supply is a service that requires well-run utilities, fair tariffs, cost recovery, etc...too many forget this.
The sanitation sector, requires an even greater effort (due to the scale of the problem). Getting households onto the sanitation ladder is essential to improvements in health and reduction of disease and mortality. Interest rates, however, can be extremely challenging for the poorest of the poor.
Affordability is one piece of access. On WRI's blog, I argue that accountability is another.
FairWater does not believe that just "more Funding" will solve the water crisis for the poor. What is needed is a focus on quality water pumps, to lower the cost of maintenance and to have less down-time of the pumps.
With Oxfam, we developed the reliable BluePump who is doing just that, over 1.000 BluePumps in Africa now prove every day that more reliable pumps, with a local back-up, is the way to go.
Amazingly enough, it was found that by using reliable BluePumps, NGOs can do twice as much, for half of the cost, while having a realistic sustainable impact.
This success story needs to get more attention, so don't ask for more money, just spend your donations more wisely.