A partnership to reach millions with sustainable clean water

A partnership to reach millions with sustainable clean water | World Vision Blog

This clean water tap in Zambia supports local business! It's next to a milk co-op receiving center, which needs water for cleaning containers. (Photo: 2015 Jon Warren/World Vision)

Our goal is to provide sustainable clean water and sanitation to every person in every place where we work. To achieve this goal, we have to make our methods even better!

See the specific ways in which we’ve partnered with a research institute to do this, and meet the people whose futures are already changing for the better.


World Vision is committed to working with our partners to provide sustainable clean water and sanitation to everyone everywhere we work, and in order to fulfill this vision, we need to improve our approach—doing some things differently and some things more efficiently. 

When I think of this goal, I think of the hundreds of villages and thousands of people in the developing world whom I've met as they received water for the first time. This is a life-transforming experience and a cause of a huge celebration that I'd encourage you to enjoy if you ever have the opportunity. Equally important is to make sure that the water keeps flowing after the celebration.

Several years ago, I met a young man named Emmanuel Tenge from Ghana. He’s 23 now. His early life was filled with trips to haul water, but then World Vision brought water to his village and he had the opportunity to do something besides haul water. Emmanuel remembers that day as a day of joy for his family and of freedom from long hours hauling water. This life-changing event allowed Emmanuel to excel in his studies, and I'm thrilled that Emmanuel will graduate this Spring with an accounting degree from the University of Ghana!

I traveled with Emmanuel to see water points in Ghana and we celebrated water points that were the same age of Emmanuel … and were still functioning. We know that water points only function for decades because of community ownership, but there's much more to learn about how to do this better. 

A partnership to reach millions with sustainable clean water | World Vision Blog
Emmanuel standing beside his community's clean water borehole. (Photo: 2014 Dr. Greg Allgood/World Vision)


Toward this objective, World Vision is pleased to announce a new partnership with The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) to improve our water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs in the developing world. Our partnership with UNC will provide data and lessons learned, allowing us to improve at an unprecedented scale.

Specifically, World Vision and UNC are committing to collaborate over a six-year period in an extensive research and monitoring program. By conducting rigorous evaluations in 10 countries, and additional countries going forward, World Vision is investing in building an evidence base and measuring results. This partnership is unique because few partnerships exist between nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and research institutes to use data and evidence at this scale to inform program improvements.

Baseline, Midline and Final Evaluations: UNC has recently completed the largest known baseline evaluation of a multi-country NGO WASH programs by conducting surveys in 10 countries involving 26,851 households, 1,193 water points, 2,568 schools, and 1,453 health facilities along with 7,561 microbiological samples. The main value of this work was to create a baseline from which future progress and achievement can be rigorously measured through a follow-up midline (2017) and final evaluation (2020). The results will allow for ongoing improvement as World Vision and partners seek to reach one new person every 10 seconds with clean water and sanitation by 2020, and to provide universal sanitation and water in all program areas globally by 2030.

Community-Managed Water Systems: A previous Hilton-funded study in Ghana showed that nearly 80% of World Vision water points were operational—even after two decades—and that water committees and fee collection were critical to sustainability. As a follow-up, UNC is determining the common factors that result in long-lasting water committees through a qualitative study involving 237 hours of interviews in three countries. Initial results demonstrate the value of the involvement of women in leadership roles in water committees and the importance of informal payment schemes.

A partnership to reach millions with sustainable clean water | World Vision Blog
Sarafina and Pesia work on a community-managed borehole repair team in Zambia. (Photo: 2014 Jon Warren/World Vision)


Mechanized Solar-Powered Sustainability: UNC will conduct a 3-year/3-country research effort to identify factors leading to long-term sustainability of solar-powered mechanized systems, which have become an important part of the way World Vision provides water. For example, we have plans with the pump manufacturer Grundfos to provide 1,000 mechanized systems reaching 2 million people by 2020. This partnership includes the use of market based mechanisms to allow for fee collection including an innovative digital payment platform solution provided by Ericsson & Grundfos partnership and being implemented by World Vision in Kenya that received some attention recently. 

Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI): The CQI approach to improvement has been used for decades in the private sector, but UNC and World Vision are the first to bring this approach to the WASH sector. It’s already demonstrated improvement in water quality in Ghana and will be scaled to West Africa and beyond to continue to improve implementation.

Click here to see more details on our UNC partnership. We're thankful to UNC and all of our donors and partners who are helping make us a more effective organization in serving the poor. 

Every child deserves clean water! Help us reach our goal of providing clean water to a new person every 10 seconds by 2020—donate to clean water here.

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