WaterPartners International has joined forces with the ClearWater Project — a program of singer/author/actress Jewel's Higher Ground for Humanity — to maximize a fund-raising campaign to support water projects in Bangladesh, India and the Philippines.
ClearWater Executive Director Sean Ebnet recently said his organization would match the funds raised by WaterPartners to support these projects. The matching commitments will double the proceeds raised by WaterPartners up to $150,000. The total of $300,000 will enable WaterPartners to fund several projects through its partner organizations in Asia.
"We believe working together on joint initiatives will yield much greater results than the sum of our independent efforts," said Ebnet. "This is true of both our project efforts and our fundraising efforts."
ClearWater and WaterPartners have been working together for two years to share resources and knowledge in a common vision of increasing access to safe water in the developing world. The alliance has been remarkably successful because in all major respects the two organizations share the same philosophy — both are committed to working through locally-based partner organizations and their projects are based on community-centered practices.
The need in Asia for safe water and improved sanitation facilities is urgent. In Bangladesh it is estimated that more than 20 million of the country's 125 million residents are drinking water with arsenic levels ranging from 50 parts to 500 parts per billion — levels the human body cannot naturally purge.
With a grant from ClearWater, WaterPartners last year conducted extensive on-site evaluations of more than two dozen potential partner organizations in Asia. Of the 108 originally asked to apply, only four partner organizations met WaterPartners' rigorous criteria for facilitating water and sanitation projects.
"These organizations in Bangladesh, India and The Philippines represent a tremendous potential for ClearWater and WaterPartners to support high quality, sustainable water supply and sanitation projects," said Gary White, executive director of WaterPartners. "All of these local partner organizations are ready to begin work on projects immediately — they simply lack the funds needed to move forward."
Headquartered in Columbia, Mo., WaterPartners International began in 1990 as a benefit dinner organized to support a safe drinking water project in Honduras. To date, the group has funded 54 projects benefiting more than 20,000 people. WaterPartners was co-founded by Gary White and Marla Smith- Nilson, water resource engineers who began the organization while earning master's degrees from the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina.
WaterPartners works through local partners in developing countries to promote innovative and cost-effective community water projects that have the greatest chance for long-term success. WaterPartners' staff carefully seeks out and supports organizations with the proven ability to facilitate quality projects at the community level. After funding the projects, the organization continues to monitor the projects through site visits and progress reports to ensure long-term sustainability.
Although the overall failure rate for water supply projects in the developing world exceeds 50 percent, WaterPartners' success rate is 100 percent — all of the water projects it has funded are still operating.
"ClearWater stepping forward to match our funds is a great boost to our new partners in Asia but is also a great challenge," said White. "We have an even greater incentive to boost our fund-raising efforts this year so we can take advantage of the full match."