Foundation pledges $50M to improve global water conditions

March 22, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 22, 2011 -- The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has pledged $50 million to address the water needs of more than one million people in sub-Saharan Africa and water stressed areas of India and Mexico...

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 22, 2011 -- The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation today on World Water Day announced a pledge of $50 million to address the water needs of more than one million people in sub-Saharan Africa and water stressed areas of India and Mexico. The $50 million grant over five years will fund a three-part strategy that will deliver access to sustainable safe water; increased advocacy and capacity; and expand knowledge on global water best practices for communities, governments, NGOs and donors.

900 million people (14% of the world population) do not have access to adequate clean water. More than 2.5 billion people (38% of the world population) live without basic sanitation.

"It is estimated that 3.4 million people die each year from contaminated water and poor sanitation and hygiene practices," says Steven M. Hilton, President and CEO of the Hilton Foundation. "To put that number into context, it's like the entire population of Connecticut or Oklahoma dying every year. 2.1 million children die every year from contaminated drinking water, poor sanitation and poor hygiene practices. That's like the population of New Mexico or Utah, dying every year. It's unthinkable, but we can't afford to ignore the problem," said Hilton.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation works to increase sustainable access to safe water for people in severe need within developing countries. By building appropriate water systems, training people, and supporting water treatment research, the Foundation has created local capacity for ongoing water quality testing and management.

Hilton announced the pledge today at a World Water Day event sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the World Bank. In his remarks, Hilton said, "While other stories dominate the news cycle, a crisis is brewing behind the headlines. It's a quiet tragedy with a cast of millions of regular people dying from preventable water-related diseases. The programs we are funding will employ innovative and appropriate technologies to scale up safe water provision, develop tools to enhance water programming, foster partnerships, generate and share knowledge, and support advocacy."

Hilton pointed out that the Hilton Foundation's water program over the past two decades has focused on WASH -- Water Access, Sanitation and Hygiene. Thanks to the Foundation and its implementing partners, more than two million people have been provided with safe drinking water. Access to adequate clean water has improved the quality of their health, education, livelihoods and overall well being. Moreover, thousands of women and girls are freed from spending their days carrying water, with girls able to go to school and women able to start small businesses or work on the family farm, he reported.

The Hilton Foundation grants announced thus far have gone to:

  • WaterAid America, and World Vision to build sustainable safe water sources in the West African countries of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Niger and to educate communities on sanitation and hygiene;
  • CREPA (Centre Regional pour l'Eau Potable et l'Assainissement/ African Regional Centre for Water and Sanitation) to assess the functionality of 2,000 existing wells funded by the Hilton Foundation and to develop long-term sustainability guidelines for current and future projects;
  • for a comprehensive communication and advocacy program;
  • Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security to implement the Water for the Poor program that provides West African WASH practioners, community members, NGOs, local governments and donor organizations with accessible information and tools on appropriate and available technologies and solutions; and
  • The Foundation Center to build a web-based platform that will serve as a central hub for information on the global water crisis aimed at attracting more donors to participate in sustainable global water projects.

These grants reinforce the Hilton Foundation's 20-year commitment not only to ensure clean drinking water but to improve the well-being of millions of people by giving them the tools they need for long-term success.

"World Water Day is pivotal in drawing attention to a serious global crisis. But, for us, every day is World Water Day and our goal is to help bring about a world where every person has clean and safe water," concluded Hilton.


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