Mar 26, 2010

Water For People Unveils New Strategic Plan

Strives to put sustainable end to water poverty

Water For People announced its 2009 results, unveiled its 2010 to 2014 strategic plan along with new branding, and detailed ambitious plans to transform the sector by becoming a role model on how to measure success in the water and sanitation arena.

The Denver-based international developmental organization is calling for fundamental change in how the sector operates, including empowering communities in the field to take responsibility and ownership of the systems put in place. This approach leads to true sustainability verses the cycle of dependency that plagues so many other well-meaning but ultimately unsuccessful efforts, the organization said.

“It is no surprise they are taking ambitious steps to improve their own organization as well as the entire industry,” said Stephen Rosenthal, philanthropist and CEO of Strategic Comp. “Their visionary approach goes beyond just counting how many people have services that first year; it places greater emphasis on how long those systems last, if they are truly sustainable in future years. I think this innovative approach is the only one that will work long-term to solve the water and sanitation crisis in developing countries. But since it goes contrary to what is standard and expected, I suspect they are ruffling a few feathers along the way.”

Water For People works in districts and municipalities in India, Africa and Central and South America where their goal is to provide total, sustainable coverage of water and sanitation needs in all communities schools and clinics. They leverage their finances by insisting that communities and local government contribute financially to their water and sanitation solutions; this creates enduring, stable cultures of payment for value rather than short-term, unreliable dependency.

“We are shifting focus and energies towards making sure that every community we support continues to have flowing water in the future--not just on the day it was first provided,” said Edward Breslin, Water For People CEO. “We will commit to showing that these systems are still operational three, six and 10 years later. That’s our vision: a world in which all people have access to safe drinking water and are free from sanitation-related disease.”

That vision is reflected in the 2010 to 2014 strategic goals:
• Achieve total sustainable water sanitation and hygiene coverage in at least two regions in each country where Water For People works;
• Demonstrate increases in government counterpart funding for water supply and sanitation in all the regions where the organization works with at least five examples of government providing over 50% of the hardware;
• Focus on sustainable areas verses number of people served or beneficiaries; and
• Demonstrate that Water For People can move from a direct facilitation role to a mentoring role in at least one country by 2014.

In 2009, Water For People surpassed its toughest 2007 to 2011 goals two years ahead of schedule, the organization said, including doubling its reach worldwide. It started up programs in six new countries including Rwanda, Uganda and the Dominican Republic. For the seventh consecutive year, Charity Navigator, a charity evaluator, has awarded Water For People its highest rating of four out of four stars.