When Access to Credit Meets Water and Sanitation
Every Monday we profile a Dow Live Earth Run for Water partner organization that works toward providing solutions to the nearly 1 billion people who lack access to clean, safe water. To donate to one of these projects, visit liveearth.org/give.
For 20 years, Water.org has been empowering communities in Africa, Central America, and South Asia to meet their own water and sanitation needs. Co-founded in 2009 by Matt Damon and Gary White, Water.org is the result of a combination of WaterPartners, founded in 1990, and H20 Africa.
Because grants alone will never reach the nearly one billion people in need of safe drinking water, Water.org is acting as a catalyst to introduce capital markets to the water and sanitation sector through its pioneering microfinance initiative: WaterCredit. Through WaterCredit, the poor who are merely surviving day to day and have never had any kind of access to credit, are able to get small loans for their own water connection or home toilet – something they never dreamed would be possible.
WaterCredit programs are currently underway in Bangladesh, India, and Kenya. Since its start in 2004, WaterCredit’s success has been evident by the great demand for loans from communities, and impressive repayment rates, often at 98 percent. After 10 years of loan cycles, five times as many people have water with WaterCredit than with a similar amount of grant funding.
Mrs. Thangammal is just one of the 12,000 WaterCredit loan borrowers (90% of whom are women) we’ve served whose life has been changed by access to credit:
“I am a poor widow living in Vadugaputty (ward No. 14) hamlet of Musiri Town Panchayat with my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. In the past, we’ve had bitter experiences collecting our drinking water and defecating in the open (because we didn’t have a toilet).
We used to collect was from the public tap but it was not dependable. I used to leave our empty pots in front of the public tap two days before the water was going to be released for collection by the city. If the water was scheduled to come in the morning, I would go the previous night and sleep there so I could wake and get the water. Even then it was difficult to get five pots of water and sometimes it ended in quarreling with the other women.
One day there was a big fight and I got injured, leaving scars on my body. Many days I could not sleep well due to this difficulty in collecting water. It is because we do not have an individual water pipe connection that we have to go under all these ordeals.
At this juncture, Water.org and SCOPE came to our village and told us about the individual water pipe connection and Ecosan toilet program. Immediately, I applied for both. Now we have an individual water pipe connection and toilet in our house! We are using it and our relatives are also coming to house to use it. We feel so very happy.
Whenever I see the scars on my body, I remember the problem I faced in collecting water from the public tap. If the individual water pipe connection had come to our village earlier I would not have this scar on my body. I would have never dreamt that we could get these two facilities on our own, so we are thankful for Water.org and SCOPE.” – Mrs. Thangammal