January 16, 2009Grant is keystone of two-year, $14 million WaterAid and UNICEF-led initiative to provide safe water, sanitation and hygiene education to West African countries of Mali, Niger, Ghana and Burkina Faso
WaterAid America receives Conrad N. Hilton Foundation grant to partner with UNICEF in ambitious water, sanitation and hygiene initiative in West Africa
New York, NY—WaterAid America has been awarded a $3 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to join UNICEF in leading a multi-year regional collaboration designed to improve the lives of poor communities in West Africa by helping ensure access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education (WASH).
A contaminated water source in northern Ghana.
Credit: WaterAid / Jon Spaull
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation grant to WaterAid America, along with an equivalent award to UNICEF, is the keystone funding of a $14 million, two-year project in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Niger, which lag behind other African countries in drinking water and sanitation access.
This collaboration will utilize the comparative advantages of the two lead organizations, WaterAid and UNICEF, and will catalyze efforts of other international organizations, existing regional networks, national and local governments, and civil society.
The response includes a strategic combination of service delivery,
sector monitoring, advocacy, impact assessment, knowledge sharing, and
capacity building that will have both near and long-term region-wide
impact, beyond the direct benefits to the communities where services
will be provided.
This grant will help to directly improve the lives of more than half a million people in the region.
As the result of this project, 520,000 people in 400 communities (including 60,000 school children in 170 schools) will benefit from improved hygiene practices and increased access to sanitation facilities, while 170,000 people will gain access to safe and sustainable water supply.
”We are extremely grateful to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for their steadfast leadership in supporting water and sanitation programs in West Africa and particularly for this major new commitment to WaterAid,” said Patricia Dandonoli, President and CEO of WaterAid America.
“West Africa is home to some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world with alarming levels of poverty, disease, illiteracy and educational attainment. Investing in domestic water, sanitation and hygiene is vital for human health and makes economic sense. This grant will help to directly improve the lives of more than half a million people in the region.”
An improved water source in Mali.
Credit: WaterAid / Daniel O'Leary
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s support of WaterAid is a continuation of a collaborative relationship that began in June 2002, when the Foundation provided early support for WaterAid’s work in Ghana and Mali as part of the West Africa Water Initiative.
“Steven Hilton and the board of the Foundation have long made addressing drinking water and sanitation a fundamental part of our efforts to prevent illnesses that affect impoverished communities in the developing world, such as diarrhea, trachoma and guinea worm,” remarked Mr. Edmund Cain, Vice President for Grant Programs, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
“We are pleased to continue this commitment with our renewed support for WaterAid and UNICEF, two of the leading international agencies working in the region, and their local partners in West Africa.”
Evidence suggests that improvements in hygiene practices and access to water supply and sanitation facilities can reduce diarrhea morbidity by between 25 and 44 percent. The return on investment from improving sanitation in the countries currently ‘off-track’ for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) has been estimated at $9 for every $1 invested. And improvements in hygiene, sanitation and water supply have been shown to be more cost-effective than many other health interventions, such as vaccination programs.
Despite this evidence, the international community has made very slow progress towards achieving even the fairly modest goals set by the MDG’s. The reasons are many, but several key factors stand out:
- Inadequate financing;
- Weak capacity among those responsible for planning, delivering and regulating services;
- Lack of accurate, reliable, transparent information and monitoring of the existing service, policy implementation, areas of greatest need, and impact of investments and;
- Low priority assigned to water, and particularly sanitation, by all sector actors.
It is generally recognized that to address the crisis in water and sanitation, a coordinated effort involving national governments, bilateral and multilateral donors (including private philanthropies), local and international NGOs, and the private sector is needed.
As this project demonstrates, the role of development agencies such as UNICEF and WaterAid is to provide leadership—piloting new approaches, disseminating best practices, building capacities of local institutions, and supporting civil society so that the investments made in providing services to communities can be leveraged and scaled up by other actors.About the Hilton Foundation
Based in Los Angeles, the Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by the
late hotel entrepreneur and business leader, Conrad N. Hilton, who left
his fortune to the foundation when he died in 1979 with instructions to
help the most disadvantaged and vulnerable throughout the world without
regard to religion, ethnicity or geography.
Barron Hilton, who also led
Hilton Hotels Corporation and is current chairman of the foundation,
has joined his father in committing to leave the bulk of his wealth to
the foundation. The foundation along with its related entities has
assets exceeding $4.2 billion and, since its inception, has committed
more than $780 million for charitable projects throughout the world.About WaterAid
WaterAid is the world's leading independent non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to working with people in the world's poorest countries to improve access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education. Founded in 1981, we operate throughout Africa, Asia and the Pacific region and have helped more than 12 million people gain access to safe water through low-cost, sustainable projects that can be locally managed and maintained.
With a goal of assisting one million people to gain access to safe water and three million people to gain sanitation this fiscal year, it has earned a worldwide reputation for its effectiveness and leadership and garnered numerous national and international awards, including the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize.