Progress on Access to Safe Water and Sanitation - Water.org and The MasterCard Foundation
WaterCredit model seen to improve the lives of almost 115,000 people to date with safe water and sanitation in Kenya and Uganda.
KANSAS CITY MO (December 1, 2014)—More than 100 leaders from the water, sanitation, and finance sectors in Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia came together October 21-22, 2014 in Nairobi to share progress made and to brainstorm lasting solutions to the water and sanitation crisis affecting East Africa.
Water.org, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, convened the second East Africa WaterCredit Forum. The forum was part of Water.org’s five-year collaboration with the Foundation to bring safe water and sanitation to economically challenged communities in East Africa through an innovative approach called WaterCredit. Since 2010, the WaterCredit initiative in Kenya and Uganda has empowered almost 115,000 people to obtain financing from seven financial institutions (FIs) for long‐term, sustainable water and sanitation solutions.
Over the last year, Water.org’s WaterCredit initiative expanded in Uganda, launching partnerships with PostBank Uganda and FINCA International. PostBank Uganda began disbursing water and sanitation loans in July 2014; FINCA International is currently conducting a market demand study in Uganda before developing its water and sanitation products.
In just three months, more than 9,500 individuals in Uganda have benefited from financing for improving water and sanitation needs through PostBank Uganda (this includes loans to 12 schools and community projects). In addition to the two new partners in Uganda, Water.org has also worked with VAD Microfinance, which has reached more than 7,500 individuals through water and sanitation loans. In Kenya, Water.org’s four FI partners have disbursed more than 21,250 WASH loans serving more than 97,300 people to date.
At the WaterCredit Forum in Nairobi, participants discussed these accomplishments, reviewed lessons learned, and brainstormed long-term solutions to access to safe water and sanitation in East Africa. Some of the highlights of the Forum included:
- presentations by Habitat for Humanity on how the organization has incorporated innovative funding for water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities in their programs;
- the Association for Microfinance Institutions in Kenya network on the successes and challenges faced by MFIs in integrating Social Performance Management; and
- the results of a case study conducted by Captiva Africa on the uptake of sanitation loans in Kenya.
A high-level panel discussed why sanitation loans have not been as successful as water loans and how to promote improved sanitation in the region, with representatives from Kenya’s Ministry of Health, the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Programme, Water for People, and two microfinance institutions (MFIs) sharing on-the-ground experiences.
Another panel saw a lively dialogue on collaboration between financial institutions and manufacturers in the water and sanitation sector, with insights from Pureit-Unilever, Polytanks Kenya, and two other MFIs. The discussion concluded that major contributors to the success of the WaterCredit initiative so far have been strong partnerships between the MFIs, manufacturers, water and sanitation non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders like microfinance networks and government.
Key outcomes of the Forum were identifying barriers to WaterCredit and brainstorming solutions to scale the initiative. The barriers included high interest rates on loans, delay on water and sanitation product delivery by manufacturers due to high demand, and a need for loan capital by the MFIs. Another outcome was sharing lessons learned, best practices, and resources (such as Water.org’s WASH Microfinance Toolkits).
Water.org Director of International Programs, Dr. Richard Thorsten, said there is more demand than public and private funding available to finance global water and sanitation needs. He noted that there will never be enough subsidies in the world to solve these challenges, hence new models of financing and market engagement are required to achieve the goal of universal water and sanitation access.
“Many families, even though they are “poor” by traditional economic definitions, are still spending countless dollars of precious disposable income each day on the most basic water and sanitation services they can afford,” he said. “Access to larger sums of financing could help them break free of the vicious cycle of poverty, and put in place permanent and sustainable solutions.”
“By providing families with micro-sized loans to purchase their own water connection or toilet, Water.org is empowering families to take charge of their own futures,” he added. “In addition, as loans are repaid, they can be loaned out again to the next family in need. Water.org’s WaterCredit program reaches families four to five times faster than a more traditional approach.”
As of August this year, Water.org had invested over US$9.7million in its WaterCredit programs in Kenya, Uganda, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Peru, offering more than 370,000 loans, benefiting more than 1.7 million people. The organization is planning to invest more than US$2million in East Africa as part of ensuring accessibility to safe water and sanitation. So far, Equity Bank, KWFT DTM Ltd., SMEP DTM Ltd, ECLOF Kenya, and Post Bank Uganda have developed water and sanitation products after successful market assessments and prototype development.
WaterCredit starts from the premise there are many people in the developing world who can finance safe water and sanitation, if they are able to pay for these services over time. To move forward with WaterCredit and meet its strategic and expansion objectives, Water.org anticipates working with a diverse set of financial institution partners and funders to attract additional capital to the WaterCredit ecosystem. In addition to Water.org’s seven microfinance (MFI) partners engaged in WaterCredit in Kenya and Uganda, it expects to bring on board other MFIs in Ethiopia before the end of the year.
For more than two decades, Water.org has been at the forefront of developing and delivering solutions to the water crisis. Founded by Gary White and Matt Damon, Water.org pioneers innovative, community-driven and market-based initiatives to ensure all people have access to safe water and sanitation; giving women hope, children health and communities a future. To date, Water.org has positively transformed the lives of more than a million individuals living around the world; ensuring a better life for generations ahead. Learn more at http://water.org and www.facebook.com/water.
About The MasterCard Foundation
The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with $7 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 49 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation's programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity. The policies, operations and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO. For more information on the Foundation, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org.
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