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Could Microloans for Women Play a Key Role in Resolving the Global Water Crisis?

By Rikki Roehrich. Originally published at ValueWalk.

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Water is the foundation of life. For those living in developed countries, it’s easy to take access to clean water for granted. Sure, it costs money, but it’s affordable and usually accessible. Many parts of the world, however, face limited access to clean and safe drinking water, which impacts nearly every aspect of life—particularly for women.

Understanding Water Inclusivity

During Women’s History Month, it’s more important than ever to understand water inclusivity and the critical role this plays in liberating many women and children around the world and enabling their financial freedom.


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Women and girls spend 200 million hours every day collecting water. This is time not spent working, caring for family members, or attending school. Repeated trips throughout the day are often required, as women transport 40 to 80 pounds of water each day. Globally, women spend 200 million hours every day collecting water, and girls under 15 are twice as likely as boys to be required to collect water. As such, the time spent collecting water often draws from time with other activities, particularly education and employment—the keys to economic independence.

From a broader perspective, approximately 844 million people lack basic access to clean water for drinking, and 2.3 billion do not have access to hygienic sanitation. Nearly 1 million people die each year from water, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases. Unfortunately, women are disproportionately impacted by these poor water quality and sanitation issues.

In fact, this issue is so crucial that simply improving access to water can break the cycle of poverty for many women. The reality is that water is expensive in many areas of the world, and women pay the price—both financially and physically—to gain access to water. Obtaining water often costs 15% to 20% of a family’s income.

The effort and time women expend to collect water impacts their ability to pursue employment, look after their families, or get an education. In addition, women often have to pay for healthcare expenses related to waterborne illnesses. All of these factors have a negative impact on women’s ability to pay for other needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and education. Thus, the lack of easy access to water is one of the major factors that trap many women and families in a cycle of poverty.

Microloans Can Help Women Escape This Cycle

Microloans can be the solution, helping many women escape this cycle and move toward greater economic stability. These small, affordable loans can be used for water connections, toilets, and filtration systems that provide the infrastructure for clean water to flow, allowing families to focus on other pursuits, such as employment and education. In essence, this financing option allows women to direct the money and time they’re already spending on collecting water toward long-term income solutions for their families—income that also allows them to repay the microloan.

With household access to water, women can direct their energy toward economic pursuits, which often lead to financial stability that can help lift them out of poverty. The reality is that with capital investment, microloans for water and sanitation can impact the quality of life for millions of women and families around the world, breaking the cycle of poverty and helping families stay safer, healthier, and more economically prosperous.

The impact of microloans is not theoretical. Vedika Bhandarkar, Chief Operating Officer of Water.org, has seen this impact personally. “I see firsthand the burden and limitations the water crisis inflicts on women and girls,” she explained, “and I’ve seen the profound impact that access to water and sanitation has in changing their lives, creating opportunities for work, education, and bright futures.”

With the leadership of Bhandarkar and the partnership of finance organizations in the communities they serve, Water.org has leveraged 3.5 billion in commercial capital resulting in 9.6 million loans to help families living in poverty gain access to water and sanitation.

Access To Water And Sanitation

The outcome is improved access to water and sanitation for more than 43 million people. Moreover, 88% of the borrowers are women. If you need more convincing that this model works, consider that WaterCredit microloans have a repayment rate of 99%, making the funds available for another family.

Water inclusion results in tremendous benefits to women and families. When women don’t have to spend hours every day securing water, they can focus on other endeavors that strengthen their families and help move them toward economic freedom and security. In addition, water inclusion can result in savings related to healthcare costs resulting from waterborne illnesses.

Having easy access to clean water frees up women’s time, lowers health risks for waterborne illnesses, decreases safety and security concerns related to retrieving water or going out in the dark to find a place to relieve themselves, and allows women to focus on their families, education, and employment. Microloans are often the impetus for transforming entire families’ lives and helping them move toward economic security. It’s a small investment – average of $367 – that can make a world of difference.


About the Author

Rikki Roehrich, is a seasoned content creator for a variety of small business brands. She has a passion for writing white papers, blogs, articles and educational materials on a variety of emerging trends in the marketplace.

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