October 6, 2010
Water For People works hard to build a world where all people have access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and where no one suffers or dies from a water- or sanitation-related disease. While this goal may seem impossibly distant, Water For People has made inspiring progress in the 11 countries in which they operate. Widely recognized for their pioneering successes in the water sector, Water For People’s success is a testament to strengths of their unique approach which focuses on total coverage, scale, and learning as an organization.
Rather than continuing to use failed approaches, Water For People is constantly experimenting with innovative ideas to improve the way they work.
Water For People’s creative volunteer monitoring program, the World Water Corps®, is one such idea. To learn more about this program, and to find out what it’s like to volunteer for Water For People, check out Michael J. Mascarenhas’ blog posts on his experience working on a baseline assessment in Rwanda.
The data that these volunteers collect plays a major role in Water For People’s approach, in documenting successes and opportunities for improvement. Water For People believes strongly in the accountability that comes from sharing this data with others. In this spirit, Water For People has just hosted an “Accountability Summit” at the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC). This summit empowered participants to look at the data Water For People has collected on their projects, years after programs ended. People were encouraged to ask questions about the data, and ultimately hold Water For People accountable for their commitment to long lasting solutions. This thought provoking event was a great success, and will hopefully encourage others to do the same.
Another idea with enormous potential to reshape the sector is Water For People’s “Sanitation as a Business” model. This model recognizes the opportunity for private enterprise to revolutionize the way that sanitation services are provided. Water For People CEO Ned Breslin recently had an opportunity to discuss this model on CNBC’s Squawk Box as a part of the channel’s ‘Water Pressure Series’, and you can watch the short video here. In order to move this innovation from an idea to a reality, Water For People recently received a $5.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to test sustainable sanitation services in Africa, Asia, and Latin America using this model.
It is this type of cutting edge work, paired with strong implementation, which has cemented Water For People’s role as a pioneer in the sector. Their hard work has been recognized and supported by countless organizations, including leading private sector companies, water districts, health boards, and many others. Most recently, IPS Corporation announced a $100,000 commitment to Water For People, making them a Global Sponsor of Water For People.
Water For People’s goal of a world free of the burdens of unsafe water and insufficient sanitation remains elusive. Yet, in the many areas Water For People has worked they are realizing this vision. In so doing, they have proven their model, and given a glimpse into the future of the sector.