The Scale of our Global Water Crisis
Welcome to our new blog post series! In this upcoming series, we will be taking a deep look into the issues surrounding unhealthy water, low levels of sanitation and plastic waste reduction. At Wellers Impact, we are developing a new investment vehicle called the Water Unite Impact Fund. The fund invests into SMEs in these sectors to provide risk-tolerant and sustainable financing which enables them to continue bringing positive impact to their communities. Our first post is focusing on clean water.
The scale of the problem of water provision
The problem of poor provision of safe water facilities is prominent across the globe. Currently, 785 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 144 million people who are dependent on traditional methods of sourcing water from rivers and streams, that are often filled with contaminants (World Health Organisation, 2019). Furthermore, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces due to improper management of water (World Health Organisation, 2019). This will be a continuing issue in the future if actions aren’t put in place now.
The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas, (World Health Organisation, 2019). Whilst some may assume that this issue is just affecting poorer regions of the world, this is in fact a widespread problem affecting both developed and developing countries. The diagram below illustrates the issues surrounding water around the world such as water supply and sanitation problems.
This has detrimental consequences to a multitude of areas of an individual's life.
Firstly, women and children tend to have the task of collecting water. As a result, women cannot get jobs or provide for their families because they are forced to walk an average of 3.75 miles every day to fetch water (Thirst Project, n.d.). Children are often spending an average of 6-8 hours walking for water each day meaning that they are unable to go to school and get an education (Thirst Project, n.d.). Both these consequences affect the ability of families to improve their financial status and work to get out of poverty.
Secondly, water pollution is the major cause of various diseases like cholera and typhoid (Conserve Energy Future, n.d.). These illnesses affect an individual’s ability to work and provide for their family as well as the ability for children to go to school. Around the world, up to 443 million school days are lost every year because of water-related illnesses (Human Development Report, 2006). Additionally, these illnesses can lead to water sanitation-related deaths. 1000 children under the age of five that die per day from water-related illnesses (Thirst Project, n.d.).
Thirdly, agriculture is substantially affected as a consequence of lack of clean water. Without access to a close, safe water supply, communities cannot develop sustainable agriculture production for food security. This adversely affects the health and strength to carry out essential tasks for many individuals.
What are the causes of poor water provision globally?
Quality - Unsafe, dirty drinking water can be caused by waste entering the water bodies. This includes biodegradable waste, hazardous pollutants and toxic chemical pollutants (Safe Drinking Water Foundation, n.d.). Secondly, industrial activity, such as factories, can cause great amounts of sediment to pollute lakes and streams (Safe Drinking Water Foundation, n.d.).
Access – The nearest clean water sources may be a long way from people’s homes. Therefore, they have to travel long distances to access it. In 16 countries, more than 40% of the population do not have access to even a basic water facility such as a protected well (Water Aid, 2016).
Price – High-quality drinking water is very expensive in some countries. The World Health Organization specifies 50 litres per person per day as the recommended ‘intermediate’ quantity needed to maintain health, hygiene and for all domestic uses. However, this can be expensive relative to the income earnt by individuals. Below you can see the percentage of one person’s daily salary the cost of water would be (Water Aid, 2016):
Challenges of the financial landscape
The current financing landscape in the clean water area in developing countries is dominated by non-profits and NGOs. Some examples include Charitywater.org, Just a Drop and Thirst Relief. If you’re interested in learning about more of these organisations check out this link: https://www.raptim.org/55-water-ngos-know/.
Whilst it is clearly a benefit having these organisations established in the area, something which they lack is long-term financial sustainability. Investment into the private sector through impact investing can help to solve this.
Wellers Impact - A New Solution
Investment into SMEs which work towards providing clean water is extremely beneficial and has the potential to alter the landscape in developing countries. At Wellers Impact, we are committed to investing in these SMEs and aim to work towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals - 3: good health and wellbeing and 6: clean water and sanitation. This enables SMEs to carry out their important functions, bring social benefits and create meaningful impact by being able to finance their operations and grow their scale.
Having begun investing into the sector, we are currently raising capital, speaking with investors and sourcing further investment opportunities. If this is something that you are interested in, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to receiving your messages.
On the 3rd of September 2020, our partner Water Unite hosts a convening with speakers from the United Nations Conference for Trade & Development (UNCTAD), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Water Unite: A partnership to end water poverty and reduce plastic pollution. Leveraging the power of retail collaboration to change the world.
They are bringing together multiple stakeholders from the private, retail, development, political and finance sectors to create a new, highly innovative, catalytic fund that addresses the global issues of plastic waste and lack of access to clean water and decent sanitation.
Hosted by Adam Shaw (journalist and broadcaster for the BBC), speakers will include:
Satya Tripathi - UN Assistant Secretary-General; Head of New York Office at UNEP
Dr Chantal Line Carpentier - Chief, UNCTAD New York Office
Michael Fletcher - Commercial Director at The Co-op
Catherine Roe - Chief Executive Officer at Elior
Chris Sellers - CEO of Water Unite
Lord Malcolm Bruce - Chair of Water Unite
Neil Sandy & Jeremy Gorelick - Wellers Impact
To register, visit https://waterunite.vfairs.com/.
Wellers Impact is a UK-based, FCA-Regulated Impact Investment Manager which works to unlock community-focused impact through SDG-focused impact investing. Through innovative investment models that utilise fair economics, Wellers Impact originates investment opportunities across three core business activities; real estate developments in partnership with local land-owning not-for-profits in East Africa, financial support for agriculture firms and supply chains globally through sustainable development finance and direct investment into private water, sanitation and plastics recycling firms globally. Investment involves risk. Suitable for Sophisticated, Professional and High Net Worth Investors only.
Conserve Energy Future. (n.d.). 40 Interesting Facts About Water Pollution You’ll Wish You’d Known. Retrieved from Conserve Energy Future: https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/various-water-pollution-facts.php
Human Development Report. (2006). Human Development Report. Retrieved from UNDP: http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/reports/267/hdr06-complete.pdf
Safe Drinking Water Foundation. (n.d.). Water Pollution. Retrieved from Safe Water: https://www.safewater.org/fact-sheets-1/2017/1/23/water-pollution
Thirst Project. (n.d.). Water crisis. Retrieved from Thirst Project: https://www.thirstproject.org/water-crisis/ gclid=Cj0KCQjwyJn5BRDrARIsADZ9ykE3UlFvVV8fMV67EL017azBk7-ydAT7AjnIihKhEycF813KtQnlQQIaAouLEALw_wcB
Water Aid. (2016, March). Water: At What Cost? Retrieved from https://washmatters.wateraid.org/sites/g/files/jkxoof256/files/Water%20%20At%20What%20Cost%20%20The%20State%20of%20the%20Worlds%20Water%202016.pdf