“They believe for a day when everyone in the world can take a safe drink of water. It’s easy to take for granted ready access to a safe supply of drinking water. Yet nearly one billion people lack this most basic resource. They believe that creating accessible, safe water supplies in developing countries frees people to live healthier, fuller, more productive lives.
Co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White, Water.org is a non profit organisation that has transformed hundreds of communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America by providing access to safe water and sanitation.
Water.org traces its roots back to the founding of Water Partners in 1990. In July 2009, Water Partners merged with H2O Africa, resulting in the launch of Water.org. Water.org works with local partners to deliver innovative solutions for long-term success. Its microfinance-based Water Credit Initiative is pioneering sustainable giving in the sector.
Challenging the Traditional Approach to Assistance
Water.org is challenging the traditional approach to assisting people in developing countries. Their goals are to draw attention to the world’s number one health problem, unsafe and inadequate water supplies, and to raise funds to help fight this problem – one community at a time.
They believe people in developing countries know how to best solve their own problems. That’s why they’ve forged partnerships with carefully-screened partner organisations in the target countries that understand, and are part of, the local culture.
The results are solutions tailored to the need of each community, instead of a technological fix the community has no way of maintaining. They use their expertise to seek out and fund those partner organisation and projects that produce lasting results. They are not tied to any single partner organisation.
Community participation is at the heart of their philosophy. They believe that for a project to be truly successful, communities must be viewed and must view themselves as the owners of the project. That’s why Water.org engages communities at every stage and at every level: from project planning, building, and financing, to ongoing project maintenance.
People often ask how they select the communities they work with but since their approach is demand-driven, the communities actually select them! Communities with a water or sanitation need contact our in-country partner organisation. Their partner organisation evaluates the communities and makes recommendations on water and sanitation projects.
A Commitment to Sustainability
Water.org backs its commitment to sustainability with rigorous monitoring and evaluation, and original research programmes. Historically, few non-governmental organisations have conducted systematic studies of the sustainability of their water supply projects. Studies they have conducted represent a significant step towards quantifying success and identifying opportunities for improvement.
Under their rigorous monitoring and evaluation process, local partner organisations are required to submit programme and financial progress reports on a quarterly basis, and to evaluate their projects after the first year of completion to measure what outcomes have emerged from the project and what lessons they have learned to guide future efforts. Water.org constantly refine their overall monitoring and evaluation processes to ensure accountability on the part of their partners.
Water Credit Initiative
Water.org projects are funded through grants, loans, or a combination of grants and loans. Our loan programme is called Water Credit, and is the first of its kind. The Water Credit Initiative represents the creation of a new space at the intersection of water and sanitation and microfinance. By increasing small loans to individuals and communities in developing countries who do not have access to traditional credit markets.
Water Credit empowers people to immediately address their own water needs. As loans are repaid, they can be redeployed to others in need of safe water. Until now, almost all water projects facilitated by other organisations have been funded entirely by grants, even when the individuals served by the project have the means to share costs.”