August saw World Water Week come and go, and
in three people globally still don’t have access to safe drinking water. For
many, particularly in lower-income communities, clean drinking water is seen as
a luxury. But how did this basic human necessity – as essential as the air that
we breathe – become a precious commodity?
parts of the world, high-end
water bars offer curated water tastings, expert water pairings and
expansive ranges of mineral water from across the globe. In other areas, such
nearly 70% of drinking water is contaminated.
believes that access to safe water is an essential foundation for good health,
but beyond this, it also closes inequality gaps and drives economic and social
inclusion, with far-reaching and long-term benefits.
to tackling the world’s water crisis, and to addressing SDG 6, engages the innovation and
local know-how of impact enterprises. We aim to overcome this critical issue by
utilising water as an enabler of economic inclusion, and empowering consumers
to buy goods and engage in the market. Providing water in this way creates
sustained impact at scale.
Why the water crisis is a woman’s crisis
women and girls spend 200 million
hours every day collecting water. In Africa, 90% of the water
collecting work is done by women and girls. This burden takes away from
time spent at work, socialising and caring for family members. Water collection
locks women in rural communities into a repetitive cycle of poverty.
carried out in partnership with TRANSFORM enterprise SJP in Bangladesh found that
women’s safety and security increases as a direct result of access to safe,
drinkable water in their homes. It also frees them up from water collection,
shifting some of those 200 million daily hours to engagement in the workforce –
which ultimately leads to greater economic empowerment.
How clean water can change a child’s life
two minutes, a child dies from a water related disease. On top of this,
millions of children around the world are responsible for collecting water for
their families. This is time taken away from leisure, playing, and crucially –
water and sanitation can change this. Through increased school attendance, they
will enjoy increased social mobility, engagement in the workforce, and economic
We are proud
to see TRANSFORM impact enterprises support children and schools through
water-based innovation. HappyTap is widening
its distribution of portable handwashing stations to include Vietnam, India, Cambodia,
and recently the UK, enabling children and their caregivers to habitually wash
their hands with soap and water. HappyTap’s desirable and simple-to-use product
demonstrates how consumer-driven approaches can encourage behaviour change and save
Benefiting the entire value chain
Not only does
safe water benefit those who use it, it also benefits the broader value chain by
unlocking economic and social opportunity – including for impact enterprises,
corporates, donors, and governments. Taking a business-led approach, and using
local impact enterprises to truly understand behaviours, mind-sets and
development issues delivers sustainable revenue-generating impact within
communities. And this economic activity has a ripple effect in rural communities.
to life through TRANSFORM enterprise Folia,
which produces Bangladesh’s first supermarket-shelf water purifier. The success
of the filter shows that making critical water products easy to access –
available in the same shop as snacks, soap and soda – can help communities to
reap multiple benefits: better health, economic prosperity and water
independence. This ripple effect can go as far as reaching the governments of
low-income countries, as innovative impact enterprises can help to deliver,
implement and sustain crucial water infrastructure – affording governments more
time and money to focus on other pressing development areas.
So while in
some parts of the world, water is so abundant that an entirely new luxury water
category is emerging, in many others, billions of people do not receive even
the most basic level of access to clean and safe water. Addressing the world’s
water crisis needs to include market-driven, consumer-centric and
enterprise-led approaches. Doing so will enable end users and wider
stakeholders to derive long-term value far beyond immediate health benefits.
Read more about the water access enterprises in the TRANSFORM portfolio here,
such as Drinkwell, who provides
clean water to over 250,000 people in South Asia using industry-leading
technology and a system based on affordable purchase cards and ATM booths.