Leading the charge for safe water

DSW Kenya woman wheeling water watermarked

The world is facing a water crisis. As climate patterns continue to shift, access to safe drinking water will become an even more critical issue. That's what drives me in my new role at Evidence Action as global senior director, safe water.

Throughout my career, I've been motivated to bridge the gap in access to essential resources, particularly for children. Eighteen years ago, I left the private sector for the development world. My first task? Negotiating lower drug prices to get medicines to children with HIV/AIDS. That experience ripped the blinders off. I saw the shocking gap in access to healthcare and education for kids. It hit me: A child's potential shouldn't be a lottery ticket based on where they're born. Ever since, I've been on a mission to help level the playing field for children born into poverty.

Through my experiences as a mother, I gained a deeper understanding of the profound impact access to safe water has on children's health. This perspective, coupled with my work on childhood nutrition and diarrheal disease treatment in India, fueled my commitment to this critical cause. Safe water access is a natural extension of my work in addressing major threats to children's health.

What excites me most about Safe Water Now is its potential for large-scale impact. We partner with national and local governments, ensuring appropriate water treatment solutions are implemented effectively. This focus on collaboration is key. Engagement of local leadership and feedback fosters community buy-in and ownership of chlorination devices.

Safe Water Now is at an inflection point. We're ready to support a scale-up of water treatment interventions in India, reaching millions in the coming years. This effort brings exciting challenges. Water infrastructure varies greatly, requiring adaptable treatment technologies. We'll work with state governments to identify the most effective and sustainable options for each region.

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Safe water solutions offer a compelling proposition for countries building climate adaptation plans. By scaling up access to safe water, we can help countries improve climate resilience. We can play a vital role in scoping opportunities at the intersection of climate and health, supporting governments in developing plans focused on water quality and security.

Securing long-term financing and building sustained political will are two critical hurdles on the path to achieving widespread safe water access. While water treatment itself may be relatively inexpensive compared to infrastructure development, these recurring costs demand innovative financial models. We need solutions that not only ensure program sustainability but also foster a sense of ownership within the communities we serve.

Building political will is equally important. Clean water often looks no different from contaminated water. Generating consistent demand from communities and long-term political commitment for ongoing water treatment efforts is essential.

The challenges ahead are significant, but Evidence Action was founded to figure out how to take these types of groundbreaking, world-changing solutions to scale. By collaborating with governments, communities, and other stakeholders, we can bridge these gaps. We can create a future where safe water isn't a privilege for the few, but a reality for all.


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