Editor’s Note: This post was co-authored by Carlos Hurtado, Manager of Sustainable Management of Water, and Priscilla Treviño, Head of Evaluation, Strategic Planning and Research, at FEMSA Foundation. FEMSA Foundation is the corporate foundation of FEMSA, a conglomerate that operates throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines and is the largest independent bottler of Coca Cola in the world, the owner of a fast-growing convenience store chain in Latin American, and a shareholder of Heineken.For over five years, FEMSA Foundation’s approach to corporate social investment has supported projects and research in the water and nutrition sector.
Investing in the social and environmental sector is not only a responsibility of the business sector; it is also strategic. This guiding principle provides the basis for FEMSA Foundation’s approach towards social investment.
Decision-making for increased effectiveness and efficiency
A corporate foundation has an interesting asset: familiarity with business-based practices and skills. Many of these skills and practices are useful for reducing uncertainty, increasing the likelihood of success, and identifying risks and opportunities for improvement for project design. Drawing on these strengths of the business sector, over the last year FEMSA Foundation has developed and piloted various tools to improve the decision-making processes related to its work in the social sector. One of the most useful has been an outcome and impact forecast methodology that the Foundation has developed for WASH projects.
In the WASH sector, as well as in many other social sectors, anticipating and quantifying the effects of a project is challenging. Diverse intervention strategies are deployed in different and evolving contexts which makes comparisons difficult. However, by making use of forecasting techniques similar to those employed by the business sector, FEMSA Foundation has found that the expected effects of WASH interventions over time can be described and quantified.
As a result of this methodology, FEMSA Foundation has identified triggers of success and social value for WASH projects. One of those is the social insertion component of a project which, based on data, impacts the sustainability of an intervention in the field. Specifically, community participation in decision-making processes, economic contributions from water users to install and sustain water access and infrastructure, and the training of water committees are now part of FEMSA Foundation’s strategy. Over 75% of the Foundation’s total investment in 2013 -- channeled towards various partners such as the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA), Habitat for Humanity and the Avina Foundation -- is now backed up by a strong social insertion component. This has led to important efficiency gains. Under the enhanced social insertion strategy, average costs associated with community fieldwork have increased by 23%, but economically valuated benefits have increased by more than 60%.
Collaboration within the social sector
The gap between NGOs, with experience getting things done on the ground, and institutions with technical expertise useful for planning, implementing, and assessing an intervention can be wide. The Foundation is working towards narrowing this gap between the social sector and other actors interested in tackling social and environmental problems.
Over the past year, FEMSA Foundation has worked closely with social sector organizations, academic partners and business leaders to unify visions and to leverage strengths and expertise for the improved design and management of social projects. One of these projects is Water Links, FEMSA Foundation’s flagship program for WASH service delivery. Water Links is co-financed by MWA and Coca Cola Latin America and operates in México, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia and Nicaragua, where it will benefit more than 110,000 people by 2015.
As a regional and inter-institutional program, Water Links is an outstanding opportunity for exploring various approaches towards WASH-related challenges. Initially, the evaluation strategy for Water Links was set around traditional reporting back to the donor. However, because FEMSA Foundation is committed to improving its decision-making processes, there was strong support for the translation of the initial evaluation model into a framework that was sufficiently sound to identify solutions for WASH-related challenges and yet appropriate to deploy in the field. FEMSA Foundation facilitated this change of vision by mapping information needs for comprehensive learning, providing guidelines for data analysis based in business-oriented practices, and offering technical expertise to enrich the evaluation model. Water Links also engaged with academia to address the benefits to the WASH sector and redesign instruments for data gathering. Finally, technical insight from MWA, the organization that works most closely on project implementation, ensured that the strategy proposed considered the challenges and realities faced in the field.
As a result of this collaboration, Water Links now has a sound monitoring, evaluation and learning model (MEL Framework). The Framework aims to capture relevant findings from the ground during the lifetime of the program through a continuous cycle of activities and instruments that will document the effectiveness of various WASH models of interventions, revealing good practices and pointing out implementation challenges.
The MEL Framework, which is set to begin its activities on the ground in May, 2014, has turned Water Links into much more than the materials and activities paid for and implemented on field. It is now a program that is able to evolve to ensure sustainable benefits as well as an instrument to learn from and transform the way FEMSA Foundation and other interested actors work for the better.
To that end, Water For People and One Drop will invest $5.8 million and $5 million, respectively, over five years to increase the scale and impact of their work. Those efforts, which are expected to reach more than 650,000 people by 2018, will leverage One Drop's expertise in sustainable program delivery with Water For People's local connections and experience in providing market-based solutions, comprehensive hygiene education, and district-wide water coverage.
"We share the belief that sustainability and economic empowerment are the foundation of international development," said One Drop CEO Catherine B. Bachand. "This partnership will demonstrate ways the water sector can collaborate to increase the return on investment of funding and, ultimately, achieve the mutual goal of delivering sustainable solutions at scale."
"ONE DROP and Water for People Join Forces to Develop Sustainable Programming to End Water and Sanitation Poverty." One Drop Press Release 02/27/2014.
Each of the two hour-long webinars will share the results of a landscaping study of sustainability-related tools for WASH that was carried out by Aguaconsult as part of the Sustainable Service at Scale (Triple-S) Initiative.
March 4th (9 am EST, 2 pm UTC) and March 18th (10 am EST, 2 pm UTC)
March 4th Presenters:
- Sam Godfrey, UNICEF
- Heather Skilling, USAID
- Agnes Montangero, HELVETAS
- Julia Boulenouar, Aguaconsult
March 18th Presenters:
- Andre Olschewski, SKAT
- Antonio Manuel Rodríguez Serrano, Water and Sanitation Program, World Bank
- Ryan Schweitzer, Aguaconsult
To register for the webinar series, click here.
Editor’s Note: This guest blog is authored by Chitra Choudhury, Manager for Natural Resources at Gram Vikas, an NGO based in India that works on a variety of development issues, including water and sanitation. In the piece, Chitra describes Gram Vikas’ model for WASH, which depends on 100% community participation, irrespective of caste or gender, and discusses how this approach is key to the sustainability of the organization’s programs.
The detrimental effects of poor water quality and hygiene practices not only on people’s health, but also on their productivity and economic life are undeniable. Designing and implementing sustainable WASH solutions has thus formed one of our main focuses here at Gram Vikas. Our organisation predominantly operates in the eastern Indian state of Orissa and since its inception in 1979, we have continuously refined our approach, taking into account the experiences made and lessons learned in the field to ensure that our interventions address the basic needs of the community in an adequate, sustainable and people-centred manner.
The result of these accumulated experiences is our ‘MANTRA’ model (Movement and Action Network for Transformation of Rural Areas), an integrated development model that is based on the core principles of inclusion and social equity. We typically use water and sanitation concerns as an entry point before we branch out our development efforts to other areas, such as education, health, livelihoods and infrastructure. Strengthening and empowering the communities we work with to ensure long-term sustainability and maximum community involvement is also integral to MANTRA.
In India, caste-based discrimination remains a sad reality for many and accumulates in a strictly hierarchical society, where individual rights become subject to class, caste and gender affiliation. Access to water in particular is used as a means of reinforcing the caste system and perpetuating social exclusion. Members of lower castes are not allowed to use the same water as higher caste people, and often have to settle for distant water sources of poorer quality. As a result of such century-old oppression, these marginalised groups have internalised fatalistic worldviews and feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness prevail among them. Even though caste discrimination is legally prohibited in India, it remains widely practised, especially among rural populations. Development efforts therefore easily get fragmented, reaching those of higher social status while the poorest of the poor – as so often in their lives – are left out.
It was under these considerations, that Gram Vikas conceived the 100% inclusion policy as a core aspect of the MANTRA programme. The principle is simple: we only begin our work in a village once all its members have agreed on certain prerequisites. Firstly, every household has to be covered – irrespective of caste, gender and economic status – and receive the same quality of service: a toilet, a bathing room and 24-hour piped water through three taps – one in the toilet, bathroom, and one in the kitchen. The water comes from a single common water tank, for which water is transported either through a gravity-flow water system or from open dug wells, depending on the local surroundings.
Additionally, all community members have to be represented at the village governance level. For the purpose of overseeing the construction process and implementation of the programme, a Village Executive Committee, comprising 50% women and representing all castes and economic classes proportionally, is elected. Inclusive of all voices in the community, this body becomes the democratic platform for joint village decision-making and endures even after Gram Vikas withdraws.
All community members further contribute towards the cost of the programme via monetary contributions to a village corpus fund and active participation in the construction works. For instance, 60% of the cost of the sanitation infrastructure is covered by the villagers, while the accumulated interest gained from the common village fund is used to link future households to the established WASH network as well as for the maintenance of the facilities.
In light of the deeply-engrained caste mentality, the process of getting everyone to overcome their differences and agree to these inclusive conditions is not always easy or fast; indeed, it once took Gram Vikas 13 years to achieve full village agreement.
Nevertheless, the strategy of using water and sanitation as an entry point and mechanism to unify the villagers, thus challenging the established social hierarchies, has paid off.
Since the inception of our water and sanitation programme, the incidence of waterborne diseases, such as diarrhoea and scabies, has reduced by 85%. School attendance has increased, particularly among girls. Women, who often had to spend hours fetching water from distant sources, are now able to invest their time in more productive activities. The positive impact of self-government and inclusive institutions at the local village level can also be felt: women and lower-caste members have often taken up positions of key responsibilities and leadership roles in the Village Committees; and through the process of experiential learning, villagers have realised the benefits and potential of their collective action, encouraging them to extend their efforts and continue to assert their rights.
Importantly, we feel that understanding the local context and incorporating insights gained by our staff in the field has been key to this success; and it will continue to play a fundamental role in the extension of the Gram Vikas initiative and our design of future WASH solutions.
Editor’s Note: This piece was authored by Kerry Gallo, Senior Program Associate for Children Without Worms at The Task Force for Global Health. In her post, Kerry describes the added benefit that many WASH interventions have for NTD prevention and introduces a new set of tools that aims to strengthen the connection between these two sectors.
The neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs, affect more than a billion people worldwide. These diseases are entirely preventable, and WASH is essential to stopping them. Now, a new set of tools -- country-specific manuals, an e-course, and a website -- has been created to help increase the impact of WASH interventions for the control of NTDs.
The NTDs have been called ‘neglected’ because they have generally received less attention and funding than diseases such as HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria. And yet, NTDs are responsible for a huge amount of pain and suffering. People with NTDs experience a range of debilitating physical, cognitive, and social effects and the diseases generate enormous global losses in educational and economic achievement. The word ‘neglected’ also describes the populations most affected by NTDs -- they are the poorest communities in the world, many of them living in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
The work of the WASH sector has been critical in stopping the spread of diseases such as soil-transmitted helminths (also known as intestinal worms), trachoma, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis and Guinea worm. However, as Stephanie Ogden, former WASH/NTD coordinator for the Task Force for Global Health, notes in a post for this blog in 2012, “WASH has had an underfunded and under-applauded role in ongoing NTD control strategies. A coordinated, targeted approach between the WASH and health communities is needed…real mechanisms for coordination, measurement, and monitoring must be established and supported from both sides of the sector divide.”
To help develop and strengthen these mechanisms, and to help bridge the divide between the WASH and NTD sectors, a new set of tools has been developed. These tools, comprised of a manual, e-course and dedicated website, are the result of a collaborative effort by Children Without Worms, the International Trachoma Initiative, Emory University’s Center for Global Safe Water, CARE, WaterAid and WASH Advocates, with support from the SightSavers Innovation fund.
“WASH and the Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Manual for WASH Implementers” (available at www.washntds.org) is a practical guide for WASH practitioners working to implement, support, and sustain WASH interventions at the country level. The manual provides WASH-implementing organizations with information on targeting interventions to NTD-endemic communities; engaging in and promoting collaborative monitoring for NTD-specific health outcomes; and communicating the impact of WASH on NTDs for the purposes of advocacy and policy change. Country-specific manuals (70 different versions will be made available by April 2014), will enable WASH implementers to easily access the most relevant information, statistics, and maps about NTDs that occur in their countries of practice.
As a complement to the manual, experts from the Task Force for Global Health, Emory University’s Center for Global Safe Water, WaterAid, Improve International, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine developed and piloted an e-course on WASH and the NTDs in late 2013. Participants from 26 WASH-related organizations working in 20 countries participated in the pilot version of the course. More WASH practitioners will have the opportunity to take the e-course and receive a certificate of completion from Emory University when the self-facilitated e-course is launched on www.washntds.org by April 2014.
The momentum behind WASH and the NTDs has only continued to grow since December 2012 when WASH and NTD experts met at a two-day WASH/NTD roundtable. At that roundtable, a common vision was developed for both sectors to strive towards -- “Disease-free communities that have adequate and equitable access to water and sanitation, and that practice good hygiene.” That vision can only be achieved through greater collaboration between the WASH and NTD sectors. The WASH/NTD toolkit can strengthen that collaboration and bring us closer to achieving our vision of a world free of disease and poverty.
For more information about WASH and the NTDs, and to download “WASH and the Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Manual for WASH Implementers,” visit www.washntds.org.
Catholic Relief Services has announced three grants totaling more than $10 million from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust in support of efforts to improve sanitation and access to clean water and health care in two West African nations.
One of the grants will support efforts in Ghana to build a hundred and twenty low-cost child-friendly latrines with hand-washing facilities at schools in remote and rural areas, as well as initiatives to promote hygienic practices and improved nutrition. CRS also will use its savings-based microfinance methodology to help parents with their children's school fees. "Many schools...in Ghana lack safe water and sanitary latrines for the students," said Lisa Washington-Sow, CRS's country representative in Ghana. "Those unhealthy conditions and the lack of privacy often result in illness and poor student attendance, especially for adolescent girls. The support of the Helmsley Trust will enable CRS to improve the well-being of more than a hundred thousand children and their families and help students stay in school."
A second grant will be used by CSR to teach community members and children at more than a hundred primary schools in Burkina Faso key hygiene practices such as hand washing, using a latrine, and safely handling drinking water. "Nearly half of the population in Burkina Faso doesn't have access to safe drinking water, and access to sanitation in rural areas is at less than 10 percent, placing the country in the bottom ten globally for sanitation coverage," said Bangre Moussa Dominique, CRS's country representative in Burkina Faso. "Schools become incredibly important in influencing young children to change their behaviors."
The third grant will enable CRS to expand its work to improve access to and the quality of health services in rural areas in northern Ghana by providing fifty motor-tricycles equipped to serve as rural ambulances and helping communities develop ambulance-management plans. With a focus on women and children, the project also will ensure that rural health clinics have essential medical supplies, promote behavior changes in seeking health care at clinics, and use traditional birth attendants as well as clinic staff to deliver quality health care.
"In Ghana, limited access to formal health care facilities remains a key challenge in the healthcare delivery system," said Washington-Sow. "The Helmsley grant enables us to help approximately eight hundred and fifty thousand vulnerable people, mainly women and children, to access quality health care when they need it."
"Catholic Relief Services Receives Grants to Improve the Health of Thousands of Children and Their Families in West Africa" Catholic Relief Services Press Release 02/11/2014.
The H&M Conscious Foundation, the Stockholm-based philanthropic arm of clothing retailer H&M, has announced grants totaling SEK 180 million (approximately $27.9 million) to three international relief organizations in support of early education initiatives, efforts to improve access to clean water, and initiatives to strengthen women's rights around the world.
The grants include $9.3 million to WaterAid and its local partners in support of efforts to deliver safe water, functioning sanitation, and hygiene education programs to schools in the developing world. In addition to providing immediate and long-term improvements to health and education, the initiative is expected to influence national and international policies related to individuals’ rights to safe water and sanitation.
"WaterAid is honored to team up with the H&M Conscious Foundation to support real, life-long impact for people living in extreme poverty," said WaterAid America CEO David Winder. "When it comes to ensuring that both girls and boys have an equal chance to grow up healthy and reach their greatest potential, safe water, toilets and hygiene education at school can make all the difference in the world. The generous support of the H&M Conscious Foundation will go a long way in helping WaterAid achieve the goal of making safe water and sanitation available to everyone, everywhere by the year 2030."
The foundation also awarded $9.3 million to UNICEF in support of the humanitarian organization's effort to place early childhood development on the global agenda and enable more children to achieve their developmental potential; and $9.3 million to CARE in support of its work to empower women economically and within various relationships that shape their lives. Among other things, CARE will use the funds to organize five regional campaigns to raise awareness about the structural hurdles and myths that prevent women from reaching their potential and provide a hundred thousand women in developing countries with access to tools, knowledge, and financial resources.
"I congratulate the H&M Conscious Foundation for choosing to support programs in three areas that are critical to sustainable development," said Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a special advisor to the UN secretary-general on the Millennium Development Goals. "The donation can contribute to big breakthroughs in each area."
"H&M Conscious Foundation Supports UNICEF, WaterAid and CARE With SEK 180 Million." H&M Conscious Foundation Press Release 02/11/2014.
"WaterAid and H&M Conscious Foundation Join Forces to Bring Safe Water, Toilets, and Hygiene to Schools." WaterAid Press Release 02/11/2014.
"CARE, H&M Conscious Foundation Announce Global Partnership to Empower Women." CARE Press Release 02/11/2014.
Editor’s Note: In the upcoming months, the WASHfunders blog will feature the work of corporate foundations active in the WASH sector. The series coincides with the release of WASH Advocates’ Navigating the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Sector: A Guide for Corporate Grantmakers. If you are affiliated with a corporate foundation and are interested in submitting a blog post for the series, please contact us at email@example.com.
With several recent high-profile grants in support of WASH from Ikea Foundation and the Caterpillar Foundation, among others, corporations are an increasingly visible source of funding for the WASH sector. In recognition of the important and unique role corporations can play in supporting WASH efforts, a new guide from WASH Advocates provides a landscape of corporate involvement in the sector and serves as a useful resource for both new and established corporate funders.
The guide documents critical needs and issues in the WASH sector and identifies opportunities for corporate involvement -- from ensuring that employees have access to safe water and hygiene in the workplace to investing in WASH projects through a grantmaking portfolio.
With a list of nearly 30 different corporate funders active in the space, the guide highlights various WASH initiatives supported by corporations, including:
- Dow Chemical’s investments in WASH technologies, such as International Aid’s plastic biosand water filters and WaterHealth International’s community-level water purification systems.
- Procter and Gamble’s (P&G) project, the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, which aims to bring safe water to children in developing countries through the use of the P&G Purifier of Water (formerly PUR).
- Xylem Watermark’s support for Water For People and sponsorship of the Stockholm International Institute’s World Water Week.
As the host of the WASH Grantmakers Network, an affinity group for philanthropic organizations focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), WASH Advocates offers pro bono guidance and advice to corporate grantmakers and other private donors interested in helping to address the global water and sanitation crisis. The Grantmakers Network works closely with WASHfunders.org to provide resources for new and established funders, including a jointly developed Funder Toolkit. For more information about the Network, contact Ben Mann at bmann@WASHadvocates.org or 571-225-5823.
The Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), a grantmaking fund designed to support organizations in developing new technologies to make humanitarian aid more effective, has launched a new initiative to encourage innovation in emergency water, sanitation and hygiene.
With support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the HIF’s WASH initiative aims to foster innovation and finance WASH solutions that will help save lives and reduce suffering during disasters and humanitarian crises.
To this end, the HIF has announced its first challenge: for latrine lighting in emergencies. To address safety concerns for those using latrines in refugee or displaced persons camps at night, the HIF is calling on problem solvers to submit a design for an effective lighting system for communal latrines that is both economical and unlikely to be vandalized or stolen. Applicants must submit their written proposals by March 16 and the winning idea will receive $20,000.
The HIF is the product of a partnership between Enhancing Learning & Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA) and ALNAP, with support from DFID, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and the Canadian International Development Agency.
Water.org has announced a $6.3 million (€ 4.7 million) grant from the IKEA Foundation in support of its efforts to provide access to safe water and sanitation for a hundred and eighty thousand people in Bangladesh.
The grant will help fund two Water.org programs — WaterCredit, a microfinance program that provides families with small loans to meet their water and sanitation needs, and the New Ventures Fund, which was launched in 2011 and supports the development of solutions to the global water and sanitation crisis. To date, the organization has invested $8 million in philanthropic capital in the WaterCredit program — investments that, according to Water.org, reach five to ten times as many people as a traditional grant over a ten-year period. Those funds, in turn, have leveraged $40 million in commercial capital, helping more than one million people in five countries gain access to safe water or sanitation.
The water and sanitation crisis in Bangladesh affects both rural and urban areas and stems from both water scarcity and water quality. While the country has made progress in supplying safe water to its residents, severe disparities on a community-by-community basis remain, while diarrheal diseases kill more than a hundred thousand children a year.
"The IKEA Foundation's support represents the first time a corporate foundation has funded both our proven WaterCredit model as well as the design of new, innovative models through our New Ventures Fund," said Water.org co-founder and CEO Gary White. "By supporting the development of game-changing approaches, the IKEA Foundation is setting the bar for how companies can drive the critical innovation needed to end the water and sanitation crisis."
"IKEA Foundation Awards € 4.7 Million ($6.3 Million) to Water.org." Water.org Press Release 01/21/2014.