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"Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right."
Kofi Atta Annan​



‘’The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses. An adequate amount of safe water is necessary to prevent death from dehydration, to reduce the risk of water-related disease and to provide for consumption, cooking, personal and domestic hygienic requirements’’


Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2002): Substantive Issues Arising in the Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. General Comment no. 15: The Right to Water.


External resources :


Water : a basic human right

"There is a water crisis today. But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people - and the environment - suffer badly."  World Water Vision Report


When it comes to water stewardship, it is unanimously recognized – and demonstrated by “big data” - that the criticality of the challenges we have been facing over the last decades will increase dramatically in the coming 30 years.


Hydrologic stress in the poorest and most populated regions of the world, global and more complex types of pollutions (in particular due to an increase in micro particle concentrations due to pharma and cosmetic products/waste), water-intensive changes in nutrition habits, decreases in land available for agriculture, rural exodus, structural unemployment, etc. are already and will increasingly be causes of major wars and massive migration.


The SDGs cover a wide range of drivers across three pillars of sustainable development. A dedicated goal on water and sanitation (SDG 6) was set out to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all."


"Water and sanitation are at the very core of sustainable development. Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation and hygiene are pillars of human health and well-being.

In addition to domestic purposes, water is needed for food, energy and industrial production, uses that are highly inter-connected and potentially conflicting.


These various uses generate wastewater that may cause pollution if not properly managed. Water is also needed to ensure healthy ecosystems, which in turn can improve the quantity and quality of freshwater, as well as overall resilience to human and environmentally induced change.


The climate system is linked to the environment and the socio-economic system through water, and climate change are often reflected in shifts in water availability, severing water scarcity in some regions, and flooding in others.


Consequently, water is a key factor in managing risks related to famine, epidemics, migration, inequalities, political instability and natural disasters."


Source : UN Water 2016


By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all



By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations 



By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally 



By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity 



By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate



By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes 


By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies 


Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management



A national independent privately owned trading company sourcing its coffee from Kenya is facing sustainability problems in regards to access to safe drinking water for the communities where it operates:

  • The business case is simple: the current producers of raw material and their families live in villages where a large number of the community boreholes are out of order. The remaining ones are contaminated. Consequently, most do not have access to safe water, and those who can afford to buy it still pay unreasonable prices. This situation is at the root of many issues: time dedicated to walk to the nearest source of drinkable water (usually women and their daughters), health challenges (50% of people in hospital due to water borne diseases), and a poor potential for profit that discourages young adults from remaining on their parents’ farms all threaten the future of coffee supply chains, and would impact the entire coffee value chain as a whole.

  • In addition to the above business case, the company is confronted by its “social licence to operate”, where there is a growing expectation from the local and global civil society that shared value should be created in places where the trading company is operating.

The mission of Waterpreneurs in this context is to help the trading company find solutions to ensure access to safe affordable water in the communities where they operate.

  1. With the support of local partners, Waterpreneurs will identify a local established entrepreneur that has the capacity to scale-up its operations (and the willingness to grow its business) to reach the communities where the company operates.

  2. Waterpreneurs will act with due diligence in working with the entrepreneur and appropriate local partners to ensure the sustainability of the entrepreneur’s solution (including an investigating, of financial and human rights aspects, team, growth potential, etc.). To do so, Waterpreneurs will work with local stakeholders, including the trading company's local team, locally operating NGOs, public authorities, start-up incubators, water technology experts etc. The objective is to to have a local system of stakeholders that supports and endorses the entrepreneur.

  3. Waterpreneurs will put specific mechanisms in place to finance the growth of the entrepreneur, and will give him/her visibility toward impact investors who can finance the growth of his/her business. Often, the mechanisms will be designed through blended finance vehicles with public and private funding.

  4. Waterpreneurs will monitor the process in partnership with recognized experts in the field.

Business case

"Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return" - GIIN

Impact investments can be a complementary solution to support the scaling-up of local entrepreneurs delivering water related services.

External resources :

Impact Investing

Social entrepreneurship engages techniques used by start-up companies and other entrepreneurs to develop, fund, and implement solutions to social, cultural, and environmental issues.

Local entrepreneurs that deliver safe water services (collection, treatment, distribution) can contribute significantly in bringing sustainable solutions.

External resources :

Social Entrepreneurship

A Public Private Partnership (PPP) is "a long-term contract between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance."

In an infrastructure-intensive sector, improving access and service quality to meet the SDGs cannot be done without massive investments. Around the developing world, the water sector appears chronically under-funded and inefficient. In this context, Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can be viewed as one of the tools (among others) available to governments for improving the performance and financial sustainability of the water sector. (source : World Bank)

Public Private Partnerships

“Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or sustainability, but a new way for companies to achieve economic success.

Michael E. Porter and Mark Kramer

The "Shared value" concept can be applied in rural and urban water supply to harness improved water efficiency to extend services to slum communities

External resources :

Shared value creation
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