This year’s World Water Week, hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), gave Safe Water Network the opportunity to engage with a number of partnering organizations in promoting collaboration within the water sector. Through such collaboration, we hope to bring the small water enterprise approach to global scale, capable of reaching the billion people in need of safe water around the world. Safe Water Network Board Member Dr. Rita Colwell, who was the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate, was also on hand this year to serve as a proponent of efforts designed to reach populations lacking safe water access by focusing on a collaborative consortium.
On August 26, Safe Water Network, EY, Jibu, and UNTAPPED co-convened a showcase session, “Stop Re-inventing the (Water) Wheel! A Technology Collaboration for Scale” (view a video excerpt of the session above). The showcase, moderated by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, focused on the collaboration to jointly develop a digital business platform as a critical step in standardizing and enabling scale of small water enterprises.
On August 28, Safe Water Network and Danone Communities sat down for a discussion on the consumer at the SIWI Sofa Session, “Marketing Strategies for Sustainability: Building Consumer Demand for Safe Water” (a recording of the session is now available on Vimeo). Moderated by Penny Magounakis of Creo Media Group, the Sofa Session provided insights from extensive work to develop marketing initiatives to activate consumer demand, informed by consumer research. The discussion emphasized why understanding the consumer is so critical to sustained impact and shared highlights from Safe Water Network’s and Danone Communities’ consumer work, including marketing initiatives and research examining the drivers and barriers for water purchase.
Also on August 28 , Safe Water Network, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and GSMA hosted a side event, “Making Waves: Implementing Digital Finance for Sustainable Water Supply,” where these organizations and other collaborators discussed digital finance—including solutions such as mobile money or pay-as-you-go systems—and its ability to revolutionize water service provision. This session shared evidence from a recent pilot in Ghana, which is demonstrating how conducting water sales through digital payments delivers far-reaching benefits from advancing financial sustainability to increased accessibility for the underserved. CGAP led an interactive discussion with Safe Water Network, Loowatt, Financial Inclusion on Business Runways (FIBR), and Wonderkid Multimedia, to examine how digital finance enables wide-scale rollout of sustainable water service. During the session, Safe Water Network launched the latest in its Field Insights series, Digitizing Payments for Household Water Connections in Ghana.
On August 29, Mrs. Anita Shukla, the First Secretary of the Embassy of India in Sweden, launched a new report, Small Water Enterprises: Providing Safe Drinking Water for Resilient Cities, during a co-convened reception at SIWI’s World Water Week in Stockholm. Small water enterprises can benefit not only growing cities of India, but also other cities struggling to mitigate and adapt to climate change and keep pace with rapid urbanization. Cities and their residents who are seeking a better future need 24/7 access to safe, affordable water within reach of their living and working spaces. The report was authored by Safe Water Network, in collaboration with India’s National Institute of Urban Affairs.
The reception, attended by more than 70 sector stakeholders, and co-convened by the SWE Working Group (SWEWG) focused on advancing initiatives to scale the SWE approach globally. It followed a convening of the SWEWG, which sought learning and the sharing of best practices—including standardizing consumer and financial definitions and metrics to bring prominence to the SWE proposition and sector. SWEWG members include: Danone Communities, Jibu, Safe Water Network, Untapped, Water4, Water for Good, Water for People, and Water Mission, and are operating with the support of advisors, such as IRC and the Osprey Foundation.