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Indian water and sanitation initiative a success

belstar-india-news-item.jpgDecember 15 2015

In 2011, Oikocredit’s Indian subsidiary, Maanaveeya, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) jointly funded a US$ 1 million Sustainable Financing for Safe Drinking Water, Sanitation and Renewable Energy project (known as WATSAN).

The three-year project was designed to help microfinance institutions (MFIs) provide additional products and services to improve livelihoods. With a view to inspiring others to launch similar initiatives, Maanaveeya has appeared at various public forums and conferences since 2014, discussing the project’s challenges and successes. Last week, Maanaveeya presented its final report on the results of the initiative at the Inclusive Finance conference in Delhi.

Addressing urgent needs of low-income people

Maanaveeya’s objective is not only to provide microfinance institutions (MFIs) with capital for income-generating loans, but also to help them develop and implement other products that address water, sanitation or renewable energy needs. A recent study by WaterAid concluded that around 60% of people in India have no access to a toilet. The resultant health crisis is a serious issue. In India more than 140,000 children under the age of five die each year from diarrhoea. With the World Bank estimating that over 20% of India’s population lack access to electricity, there is also a growing demand and dire need for renewable energy products as well as sanitation.

Additional types of financing for MFIs

Maanaveeya provided loans to 12 MFI partners as part of the WATSAN project, with the total number of beneficiaries reaching 233,932. Various types of loans were issued, including loans for the construction of toilets, loans for piped water connections, water storage units and water filters, as well as renewable energy loans for solar lighting and energy-efficient stoves. Maanaveeya also supported partners in attempts to raise awareness about health, hygiene and the environment through campaigns - using street plays, documentary films, video clips and demonstrations. Over 1 million people were reached through these activities.

Making a difference in India

Gouri Sankar, managing director of Maanaveeya, said that the project had achieved its goals and made Maanaveeya a forerunner in facilitating access to energy, water and sanitation through its MFI partners. “I am delighted that we not only achieved twice as many people as initially planned, but also had positive feedback. The many women who participated in the WATSAN project said they felt a greater sense of self-respect as well as safety by having their own toilet. Access to WATSAN facilities not only reduces incidence of water-borne and faecal-related diseases, it also saves the families time and effort taken to fetch water,” said Gouri.

A successful project

Maanaveeya’s WATSAN project has shown that when finance is made available to low-income households, it enables them to purchase sustainable technologies that improve their livelihoods. The success of the project shows that MFIs can provide their clients with other types of products and services outside the traditional lending model.

A report published by Maanaveeya about the WATSAN project can be downloaded here.

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