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."