Environment: Making it better wherever you are
Water for Everyone. Forever.
Is the worldwide water crisis on your list of issues you’d like to help resolve in 2015? Have you thought about where could your efforts be put to best use? Maybe you’re thinking that the best you could do is join up with a group and go dig a well that will bring water to a small village in some desperate corner of the world. Or maybe you’re thinking that the best you can do is contribute funds to some organization that is addressing water issues. Or maybe the best plan for you is to participate in a local cleanup of a nearby stream. Whatever you can do will help, but would you like to really do something that will have the greatest effect on a global basis?
Thankfully, the world’s best experts on water issues have come together and formed an initiative, "Everyone Forever", to resolve the worldwide water crisis. Who are they and what credentials do they carry to tackle this urgent problem? In fact, some are saying that the water crisis will soon lead to water wars. For the sake of peace, we need to take action. Combining our best efforts worldwide will produce a viable solution, however, as you know, getting people to come together can be the toughest challenge beyond the issue itself.
“Everyone Forever” is an initiative started by “Water for People”, an organization that has been working worldwide on the water crisis since 1991. All the lessons they have learned along the way are being put to best use through this new initiative.
The Guardian Global Development Professional Network’s blog, “Development Disruptors”, posted an interview on August 22, 2014 with Ned Breslin, CEO of Water for People. Here are his comments that will give you insight into how we can resolve the global water crisis:
The problem is clear. Three decades of support for water projects from NGOs, governments and large and small donors alike have not transformed people’s lives and country’s economic trajectories as such massive investments should.
Few celebrate the report from the World Health Organisation and Unicef (pdf) that shows progress on water supply worldwide – as contradictory evidence paints a much more unfortunate story. The European Union’s scathing audit of water aid investments and the Dutch government’s brave evaluation of their own work (pdf) offer sobering insight into water-sector history and challenges moving forward.
The impact of such failure is also sadly clear. Girls continue to fetch polluted water from muddy puddles and rivers, walking past broken hand-pumps and schools they would be attending if they had the time. To break this cycle, Water For People, the IRC, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, One Drop, and some members of the Millennium Water Alliance are partnering with governments and the local private sector to change the water sector narrative.
We are testing this initiative – called Everyone Forever (EF) – across Africa, Asia and Latin America. The concept is that districts maintain water services for everyone without the need for further philanthropic aid or support.
EF takes a page from polio and smallpox eradication efforts that saturated entire districts, consisting of millions of people and hundreds and thousands of villages. “Everyone” is only achieved when every family, school and clinic in a target district has access to water services, that includes the hardest to reach, the poorest, the disabled, the politically marginalised and the socially ostracised. The poorest in those areas are receiving water services because other residents are covering their tariffs. “Forever” is only achieved when districts show they can sustain these investments over time as populations grow, water resources are threatened, economies change and infrastructure ages.
EF works with governments and insists that their financial support is essential for success. We have seen a 39% increase in government investments towards EF in the past year, with examples like the district of Rulindo in Rwanda now spending over $1m a year on water infrastructure.
Two districts – Chinda, Honduras and Cuchumuela, Bolivia – have reached full coverage verified by the national government. Another five areas are close, including an island in the Ganges in India where half a million pilgrims use the local sanitation system every year (pdf).
One mayor in Bolivia now brags about his district achieving “everyone” status. As a result, other mayors across the country are replicating EF, channeling their investments towards full district coverage. Similar spread is happening in India, Rwanda, Ghana, Uganda and Honduras.
Momentum is now building scaled work that excludes nobody, transcends individual communities and is focused on sustainability. Everyone Forever offers a model that is hard to argue against by politicians and development agencies. The alternative – more projects and hollow slogans of coverage delinked from investments – is simply not good enough anymore.
Here is an introduction to Water for People:
When one person or one family has clean, accessible water, their lives are changed. But when entire regions and countries have water, the world is changed.
Water For People exists for one purpose, and it’s as simple as our name: we want all people to have safe, continuous water, and when they do, our job will be done. We want water for everyone, forever.
The current story is one of millions of people without clean water or adequate sanitation facilities. How do we #ChangeThat? We’re looking beyond toilets and wells and water pumps, and into the future. We’re talking to people to find out how they live and what they need to feel healthy, safe, empowered, and successful. We’re designing solutions based on long-term needs — and long lives. We don’t want to be around forever, but we want water to be.
Here’s how you can help.
Here’s a list of the five core principles from Everyone Forever, written by Ned Breslin for the Skoll World Forum.