WaterAid’s ambition is to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene available for everyone, everywhere by 2030. With 844 million people still living without access to clean water, and 2.3 billion without adequate sanitation, we do not underestimate the scale of this task. We know that achieving SDG Goal 6 (ensure access to water and sanitation for all) is only possible through committed partnerships across public, private and not for profit organisations. These partnerships have the potential to drive change in a number of ways.
Firstly, private sector organisations can leverage their position in their sector to influence key stakeholders. They have a platform to advocate for water, sanitation and hygiene, which goes beyond the reach of an NGO. By collaborating with NGOs through partnerships, private sector organisations also bring with them their skills and expertise. For example, through research and development, building market development capabilities and supporting the strengthening of systems and institutions responsible for water, sanitation and hygiene.
The private sector also has the potential to create change through the access they have to their employees. As well as educating employees about the importance of clean water, sanitation and good hygiene, corporates can take action on these three areas throughout their supply chains. Globally, 1.5 billion people work in supply chains; corporations have a responsibility to ensure that their employees, their supply chains and the communities in which they work have access to clean water, sanitation and good hygiene.
The HSBC Water Programme (HWP) is one such innovative partnership, which is taking responsibility for the global water and sanitation crisis, and delivering real change. With funding from HWP, WWF, Earthwatch and WaterAid are providing clean water and sanitation, protecting habitats, conducting scientific research and educating citizens to contribute to the delivery of Goal 6.
The event organised by HWP that I have attended in the framework of the World Water Week focused on one of the most populous countries struggling with the global water crisis – India, the country that all four partners are working in. The all partner event at World Water Week discussed the project work that each partner has done in the India Ganga river basin as part of the HWP. It was truly inspirational to see how the projects carried out as part of the HWP in this area already enable a holistic and integrated approach for protecting water sources and to learn about plans for the future.
During the HWP event, my colleague VK Madhavan, Chief Executive of WaterAid India, spoke about the work WaterAid India have been doing to reach the most marginalised communities in the city of Kanpur with clean water, sanitation and hygiene. A quarter of Kanpur’s population live in slums, making formal service provision very difficult. To change this, WaterAid are empowering vulnerable communities, particularly women and children, by involving them in the decision making process around water and sanitation provision, and ensuring their voice is heard.
The theme of 2017’s World Water Week is ‘Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse’. This is particularly relevant for India, where polluted wastewater is a huge problem in the poorest areas of the country. Polluted wastewater caused by an absence of decent toilets and sufficient sewerage systems exacerbates India’s water and sanitation crisis, and contributes the environmental challenges India already faces. WaterAid India are working with local partners to reduce pollution in wastewater, which is integral to building sustainable water sources for the future.