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Bringing clean water to schools and communities through innovative finance

April 12, 2022

Access to clean water and sanitation is a universal and basic human right, and yet 1 in 3 people on Earth lack access to safe drinking water.

Half of the people who today drink from contaminated water sources live in sub-Saharan Africa, and 8 in 10 live in rural areas. For those in developing countries, human-caused climate change is projected to reduce renewable surface water and groundwater resources, which will intensify already-fierce competition for water. Receding and melting glaciers will decrease water supplies for drinking and irrigation in the long-run, most crucially affecting the 20% of the world's population that gets drinking water and other resources from Himalayan glacial runoff.

Providing access to clean water and sanitation is one of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, a blueprint laid out in 2015 to mitigate the effects of human-caused climate change and improve the global populations’ quality of life by 2030. At Kiva, we partner with organizations around the world to finance initiatives addressing some of the barriers to water and sanitation access. Our Field Partners connect lenders with borrowers to make sanitation and clean water access more equitable.

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Kiva Partners such as iDE Cambodia and Nazava Water Filters in Indonesia, raise funds for loans that go toward the purchase of water filters for individuals in those countries.

In Nazava’s case, water filters solve major problems for rural Indonesians. Virtually all water sources available to households – including wells, piped water and rain collection receptacles – serve up water that is unsuitable for consumption without some form of treatment. In rural areas, the majority of the population resorts to the expensive process of boiling drinking water. Many Indonesian households spend their income on drinking water or have to spend time fetching clean water; time that could be used for education or work. Most importantly, a quarter of all children under 5 in the country suffer from diarrhoea, which is the leading cause of child mortality in the country. Nazava's clean water filters are a life changer for these Kiva borrowers.

Another previous Kiva partner, Impact Carbon, is tackling the issue of water access in Uganda. Impact Carbon owns a social business called Impact Water, which has delivered safe drinking water to schools throughout the country since 2012. Impact Water loans funded on Kiva helped fund the purchase of a water tank and filtration system for a school, which then paid back lenders using school fees over the course of 5 to 8 school terms.

In the organization’s first 2 years as a Kiva Field Partner, 470 schools were funded by Kiva lenders. This translates to about 260,000 students receiving 400,000 liters of clean drinking water every day.

Environmental challenges disproportionately affect vulnerable communities, and there is still much work to be done around the world to ensure universal access to clean water and sanitation. While it can be easy to forget the scale of this issue, dire drought conditions in places like Cape Town, South Africa and the leaded water crisis in Flint, Michigan serve to remind us that clean water is not a guarantee anywhere. Water is a finite resource whose protection and preservation demands concerted, social effort.

You can help today, by funding a water and sanitation loan on Kiva.