Global Water Challenge and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor Announce Pinnacle Awards

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2014 /3BL Media/ – Global Water Challenge (GWC) and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), two leading not-for-profit organizations working to bring universal access to clean drinking water and sanitation around the world, are announcing the launch of The Pinnacle Awards. These awards aim to recognize a city’s progress towards reaching all citizens with clean water and improved sanitation services. The two awards, the Pinnacle Award for Water and the Pinnacle Award for Sanitation, will be presented during WSUP’s Master Class in Water and Sanitation for Low Income Consumers in Kampala, Uganda in December 2014.

Read More

#ToastToWater Gives You a Chance to Join in the Celebration

Last week, the #ToastToWater campaign made waves throughout social media networks and the water sector as people from around the world raised a toast to give thanks to water. RP Siegel, staff writer for 3BL Media, gives a run-down of the campaign and World Water Day events:

This year for the first time, there is an opportunity to do just that, using social media to participate in the Toast to Water campaign. This kickstarting engagement action has spurred thousands of people to send in selfies or short videos illustrating some way in which water is important to them or just raising a glass in a toast.

For example, Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the famous ocean crusader Jacques Cousteau, can be seen making her toast to water, here. General Colin Powell also got in on the action. Many others, by those less famous, toast to water, for providing a home for their fish, for helping to brew their coffee, and for providing fresh produce. Twitter hashtag #toasttowater has dozens of photos and hundreds of tweets by people toasting to water. Check it out. You just might see someone you know.


Read More

Water is Life

By Alexandra Cousteau, Founder and President, Blue Legacy International and Monica Ellis, CEO, Global Water Challenge

Since I was a child, my grandfather Jacques Cousteau taught me that for life to thrive, there must be clean, abundant water. Water supports all ecosystems, economies, and communities, from local watersheds to the seas. The quality of our water defines the quality of our lives.

But how often do we really think about that? In the western world, not much. We turn on the tap and out flows water. In other parts of the world, however, hundreds of millions of people must go to great lengths to obtain just a day’s supply of water. Without it, people struggle to do things we don’t think twice about: grow a community, start a business, even maintain proper hygiene. In Africa and other impoverished countries, water even keeps children from going to school.

It shouldn’t have to be this way. Not now, not ever.

Access to clean drinking water is a human right, recognized by the United Nations. But it doesn’t take an international charter to recognize a basic fact of life: without water, there is only suffering. This is especially true for women and girls in the developing world since the water crisis is directly tied to their destinies. Without access to basic necessities like water and a clean bathroom at school, many young girls drop out, and will never get the education they need to break the cycle of poverty and contribute to the economic development in their home countries.

Across the world, companies, governments and civil society are coming together to protect water.  The Coca-Cola Company and its partners are providing clean water access to over 2MM people in Africa alone through a program called the Replenish African Initiative or RAIN.  From rebuilding water infrastructure in Kinshasa to empowering women entrepreneurs to run water kiosks in Ghana, these public-private partnerships make clean water a daily reality for those who could only dream of it before.

In Ghana, RAIN support has brought a woman named Cornelia and her four children a safe drinking water supply instead of the nearby dirty river.  It has also brought her precious time since she no longer has to spend hours gathering water. Just like Somaliland’s Fadumo, who would spend almost an entire day collecting water with her daughters.  Today, she earns a living selling water at a kiosk built through a RAIN project in her country.  “Now, thanks to RAIN, that is all behind us. Alhamdulilah (Thank God),” Fadumo told us.

Coca-Cola isn’t alone in making a difference.  They share this critical work with other forward-thinking organizations in the public and private sector, across diverse geographic and political boundaries, who’ve demonstrated a sincere commitment to promoting access to clean, abundant water.

In honor of World Water Day, let us each take time to appreciate every cool, clean sip of water we enjoy, and work together to ensure that everyone has the access to this basic necessity – clean water.

About the Authors


Alexandra Cousteau is Founder and President of Blue Legacy International, a non-profit organization that infuses science, technology, and exploration into compelling stories to build public awareness of the interconnectivity between local watersheds and global water resources, and to inspire more sustainable actions. Alexandra Cousteau is dedicated to advocating the importance of water conservation and sustainable management to preserve a healthy planet for future generations. A World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, National Geographic “Emerging Explorer,” filmmaker, and globally recognized advocate on water issues, Alexandra continues the legendary work of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau and her father Philippe Cousteau, Sr.


Monica Ellis is the CEO of Global Water Challenge (GWC), an action-oriented coalition of leading corporations, NGOs and other organizations committed to achieving universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation (WASH).  GWC’s mission is to accelerate the delivery of safe water and sanitation throughout the world.  GWC has sponsored path-breaking WASH projects in Africa, Central and Latin America and India.  Active in the sustainability arena for over 20 years, Ms. Ellis has worked throughout the world on global natural resource issues. Her passion is helping communities in the developing world gain clean water, sanitation and ultimately, economic opportunity.

Happy World Water Day!

Dear Global Water Challenge supporters,

This week, Global Water Challenge has been busy gearing up for World Water Day, a day designated by the U.N. General Assembly to celebrate water on March 22nd each year. As a part of our celebrations, we wanted to share with our followers some of the outstanding work and accomplishments that our members and water sector friends have recently achieved in the lead up to World Water Day.

GWC member Dow named its DOW FILMTEC™ ECO Reverse Osmosis elements as one of three “breakthroughs to world challenges.” This revolutionary technology has the ability to deliver 40 percent better water purification using 30 percent less energy – resulting in an innovative solution that has the potential to impact millions of lives. Currently, Dow Water & Process Solutions technologies generate 15 million gallons of water a minute, placing the company in a unique position to help solve global water challenges. Learn more about this exciting technology here.

Global Water Challenge teamed up with GWC member, The Coca-Cola Company, and World Wildlife Fund to launch the Toast to Water campaign. In order to raise awareness for global water challenges, the campaign encourages people to take a picture and upload it to their favorite social media site with #ToastToWater. The toasts are compiled at , where users have the opportunity to view their toast side-by-side with others from around the world. The campaign highlights the Replenish Africa Initiative, the flagship community water access program of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, and inspires people to consider all aspects of water in daily life. Learn more and participate in the world’s largest toast to water here.

Keurig Green Mountain announced commitments to water stewardship in its recent 2013 Sustainability Report, including a goal to provide clean water access to one million people by 2020. Keurig Green Mountain is kicking off its support with an $11 million commitment to support leading nonprofit organizations working to promote water security.  The four water organizations that this funding will support include GWC member charity: water, Global Water Initiative, Raise-the-River and American Rivers. Read more here.

GWC is proud to support these strong initiatives. As always, do not hesitate to be in touch – we love to hear your thoughts. Cheers to water!

Warmest regards,



Global Water Challenge

Top 10 WASH Sustainability Tools of 2013

The following is a cross-post from Brian Banks at

2013 has been a great year for We have seen the number of endorsers for the WASH Sustainability Charter swell to over 130, and we have seen the sector make great use of the Self-Assessment tool launched early in the year, with 17 organizations having completed the full assessment. To endorse the WASH Sustainability Charter or use the self-assessment tool, please visit this page.

For those of you that haven’t yet used the self-assessment tool, beyond providing you with scores on different areas of sustainability, you will receive a personalized recommendation of resources that can help you where your organization has the greatest opportunity for growth. These resources are also available to search or browse. Throughout 2013, these resources have been viewed hundreds of times by users across over 150 countries. Today, we are sharing the most popular resources (by number of views).

If you are interested in learning more about tools in the water sector, we invite you to join the upcoming WASH Sustainability Webinar Series events on tools for ensuring WASH Sustainability on March 4th and 18th. To learn more and to register, click here.

Without further ado, here is a countdown of the top WASH Sustainability Tools of 2013:

Top WASH Sustainability Resources for 2013

10) Assessing hygiene improvement: guidelines for household and community levels
The guidelines are intended to assist program managers to develop and evaluate hygiene improvement interventions at the community and household levels. They describe 66 indicators and propose 360 model survey questions for measuring hygiene improvement comprehensively at the household and community levels and at institutions such as schools and health facilities. They help in planning and conducting the following evaluation tasks: - Perform a situational analysis and needs assessment - Develop a performance monitoring plan - Establish a baseline of and assess the current hygiene practices - Measure differences in access and hygiene behaviors between different population groups - Evaluate the impact of hygiene improvement programs

9) SARAR techniques: Tools for Community Participation, a manual for training trainers in participatory techniques
Focuses on an approach to participatory training called SARAR, which stands for: self esteem; associative strengths; resourcefulness; action planning; and responsibility. The SARAR approach to community participation in development projects is designed to ensure that sect oral improvements correspond to people’s priorities and benefit from people’s willingness to use them effectively and maintain them in good order

8) CLUES (Community-Led Urban Environmental Sanitation)
The planning approach builds on a framework which balances the needs of people with those of the environment to support human dignity and a healthy life. CLUES is a multi-sector and multi-actor approach accounting for water supply, sanitation, solid waste management and storm drainage. It emphasizes the participation of all stakeholders from an early stage in the planning process. CLUES promotes a shift away from centralized conventional sewerage (but doesn’t exclude it) towards offering a range of technology solutions for people living in poor and unplanned urban areas. The CLUES approach has three distinct elements: • seven planning steps, • three cross-cutting tasks relevant throughout the entire planning process, and • the enabling environment which is required for sustainable interventions.

7) ISO Water Standards
The International Standard Organization presents three key standards for managing water utilities, and assessing water services (processes, activities, means and resources) necessary for abstracting, treating, distributing or supplying drinking water and for collecting, treating and disposing of wastewater as well as for providing the associated services and evaluating the service being delivered. The three standards are: - ISO 24510: activities relating to drinking water and wastewater services – Guidelines for the assessment and for the improvement of the service to users - ISO 24511: activities relating to drinking water and wastewater services – Guidelines for the management of wastewater utilities and for the assessment of wastewater services - ISO 24512: activities relating to drinking water and wastewater services – Guidelines for the management of drinking water utilities and for the assessment of drinking water services.

6) Operation and maintenance of rural water supply and sanitation systems: A training package for managers and planners
This training package provides activities for planners and managers interested who are challenged by the effective implementation of WASH Operation and Maintenance services in developing countries. It highlights the importance of community participation, gender balance, emphasizing the efficient use of local human resources for sustainability.

5) USAID hygiene improvement framework (HIF)
This framework is used as a model to sustainably combat diarrhea by USAID and their partners. Aspects of the HIF have been incorporated into existing health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS and child survival programs to increase the likelihood of sustainable work throughout other development sectors.

4) Developing Financing Strategies in Water Supply and Sanitation
This paper provides information about financing strategies in water supply and sanitation (WSS) that are realistic and meet established development objectives. It addresses the preparation, development and implementation of a financing strategy in WSS in developing and transition countries. In specific, the paper: - offers a definition of a financing strategy for WSS - lays out the stages for preparing, developing and implementing a financing strategy in WSS - breaks down the challenges in each step

3) Sustainable sanitation and water management toolbox
This integrative toolbox is used for capacity development at the local level. It provides a collection of tools and approaches to improve water resources management sanitation, targeting decision makers and practitioners. It can also be used by international agencies for education and training. It offers material covering: clarifying the sustainable sanitation concept, understanding existing local water management systems, planning and process tools, implementation tools, and train the trainers modules.

2) Handbook on Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) methodology
The CLTS methodology is a popular tool used to motivate change for improved sanitation in the rural context. CLTS recognizes the importance of behavioral change in improved sanitation through community mobilization. Through facilitation techniques, communities conduct their own appraisal and analysis for open defecation and take their own action to become open defecation free. CLTS recognizes that providing toilets does not guarantee or result in improved and sustainable sanitation and hygiene. By focusing on behavioral change and awareness building, CLTS invests in community mobilization rather than hardware installation and triggers change within communities through mutual support, local solutions and innovation.

1) PHAST - step by step guide: a participatory approach for the control of diarrheal diseases
Through the promotion of participatory technique, this guide presents a seven-step approach to help people feel more confident about their ability to take action and make improvements to their communities. In the first five steps, community groups are guided on the development of a plan to prevent diarrheal diseases by improving water supply, hygiene behaviors and sanitation. The last two steps involve monitoring and evaluation.

By Harold Lockwood - During the recent World Water Week in Stockholm, the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Netherlands Foreign Ministry and IRC International Water an…

USAID Releases Water Strategy, WHO and UNICEF Update JMP

Memorial Day Weekend officially began the summer travel season in the United States. As millions of children pack into cars, buses and planes they ask “are we there yet?” On the flip side, approximately one billion children in developing countries also ask “are we there yet” while collecting water or seeking a clean and safe place to go to the bathroom. What is the United States’ response to the global need for sustainable access to water and sanitation?

Two recent reports shape the response, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the first Water and Development Strategy 2013-2018 and the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) released the Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water 2013 update. The JMP 2013 Update provides a snapshot of the areas around the world with the greatest water and sanitation needs and the USAID strategy outlines a roadmap to reach some of these areas.

2013 Update Snapshot: Although significant progress has been achieved on providing access to water and sanitation, especially in Asia and in urban areas, the JMP 2013 Update shows that there is still more work to be done. Of the 768 million people without access to improved drinking water, 83% live in rural areas, and as the first map shows, the countries with the lowest rates of access are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 2.5 billion who lack access to sanitation, 71% live in rural areas; and as the second map shows, the majority of countries with the lowest proportion of population with access to sanitation are also in Sub-Saharan Africa.


One billion of the 2.5 billion people without access to sanitation practice open defecation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, open defecation rates are increasing. This is problematic for water and food security. Evidence shows that open defecation is linked to stunting and malnutrition because increased prevalence of feces and germs in food and water sources adversely affects the body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients. Solving open defecation is a big step towards achieving food security and improving global health.

The USAID Water Strategy Roadmap: The strategy recognizes the importance of water in meeting development priorities of improved health and increased food security. In order to achieve the overarching goal to save lives and advance development, the strategy focuses on two strategic objectives:

  • The Water for Health objective would provide at least 10 million additional people with sustainable access to improved water sources, 6 million additional people with a safe and sustainable sanitation, and hygiene behaviors, such as hand washing, will be adopted.
  • The Water for Food objective seeks to improve water use productivity in rain fed areas and irrigated agricultural systems so that more people can receive higher incomes from higher food yields.

USAID invests approximately $500 million annually for water-related projects. Going forward, USAID will be more selective in funding high priority countries, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. Funding will be directed to those countries where more people lack access to safe water and sanitation and where more children below five years of age are susceptible to diarrhea. The 2013 JMP Update helps with prioritization by showing countries with low access.

As USAID water programs work to improve health and food security, the strategy will focus on the following key issues:

  • gender equality and female empowerment;
  • monitoring and evaluation to build sustainability from the start;
  • integrated water resource management;
  • science and technology;
  • resilience; and,
  • innovative financing models.

This approach calls for evidence-based action, host-country ownership, collaboration and improved transparency and accountability to the American taxpayer, communities, USAID and implementing organizations.

So the question remains: are we there yet? According to the JMP 2013 Update, the answer is “not yet.” The USAID Water Strategy lays out a strong framework that sets us on a path to answer “much closer” to the question of achieving universal access to water and sanitation that is sustainable by the time the JMP 2018 Update is released. It is a call to action. If you follow the math, 780 million people still lack clean water, and 2.6 billion sanitation. The USAID Strategy itself targets to reach 10 million and 6 million people with water and sanitation respectively but a key component in amplifying this progress is partnerships. The USAID Strategy emphasizes partnerships with new and existing actors to leverage expertise and resources to close the gap. The strategy presents a clear vision for the next five years, but it, along with the success of making marked improvement in achieving universal access, hinges upon increased and enhanced collaboration with non-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector, local and national governments and international donors. Working together, we can get there.

WaterAid, Coke Launch Safe Drinking Water Program in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia

New York, NY, United States — International water and sanitation non-profit WaterAid and the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation announced on April 29 that they were teaming up on projects to bring safe potable water to three locations in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.imageimage

“We are delighted to partner with The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation to bring lifesaving safe water and sanitation to people who are too often ignored,” David Winder, CEO of WaterAid America, said in a news release.

Read More

The State of WASH: Reflections on 2012 and Expectations for 2013 and Beyond

GWC knows that access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene is the cornerstone for stability, community development and one day —prosperity.  Over 780 million people lack access to improved sources of drinking water and 2.5 billion lack improved sanitation, but across the world, progress is being made to bring access to these basic services. 

What follows is the GWC perspective on the State of WASH, but we want to hear from you.  What trends have you noticed in the WASH sector?  What encourages you in your work?  What are the important lessons we should all learn as we move forward to try and eradicate the WASH access gap? 

Read More

The Business of Sanitation Outcome Report


“The Business of Sanitation” learning event brought together a wide range of participants for an engaging conversation about business approaches to sanitation. This event addressed the need to organize sanitation systems, looked at new business ventures in the sanitation sector, and identified potential avenues for growth and development.

Click here to read the full outcome report.

blog comments powered by Disqus