WASH Advocacy for Change

Water Credit

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We all know that water is a valuable commodity as it directly and indirectly supports life. A great percentage (75%) of the earth as well as of our bodies is composed of water. By the mention of this, anyone might be tempted to ask why so many people and nations suffer because of lack of water if most of the earth consists of water. Well, perhaps a preview of more statistics about water may explain this paradox. Although three-quarters of the earth are filled with water, 97.5% of this water is salt water. This then leaves us with only 2.5% fresh water, but not all of it is usable as 70% of the fresh water is frozen and exists as ice or snow. Moreover, the remaining 30% fresh water that should be available for use by human beings and animals is highly polluted. In a nutshell, only around 1 percent of the water on earth can be used by animals and people. Humans have to grapple even further given the fact that they are not the only ones who need the water, and they share the precious, priceless resource with other sectors such as agriculture and industries.

Clearly, there is a good reason to make concerted efforts to ensure that people can take advantage of the 0.08% of the water as much as possible. That is what brought various stakeholders, partners, and service providers to a Lend for Change meeting organized by water.org at the Sarova Panafric Hotel on the 21ST and 22ND October, 2014. Guided by the ethos, Lend for Change, Gary White, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of the host organization, Water.org, opened the meeting. He was determined to give the participants the much-needed impetus to discuss how to drive water credit towards the next level of success. Water credit, thus, was the main agenda for the two-day partners meeting, and everyone was enthralled to listen to White as he presented 2014 water credit programmatic highlights.

Starting with the highlights, White talked of how Water.org has evolved over the years, but its focus has always been to change the world. Back in 1990, WaterPartners International burgeoned from the then budding organization and merged with H20 Africa to become Water.org. Today, Water.org is responsible for 48 programs in 10 countries, 5 of which are in Kenya. One of the biggest programs, WaterCredit, currently runs in various financial institutions where the organization supports lending for purposes of increasing access to water and sanitation. The financial institutions involved in the WaterCredit program subsume Equity Bank Ltd, KWFT, SMEP, and ECLOF from Kenya and Postbank, FINCA, and VAD from Uganda. Since its inception, 15,716 WASH loans have been issued in Kenya, serving around 101,352 people while in Uganda, still in the initial stages of implementing the WaterCredit program, 285 WASH loans have been issued.

The wonderful remarks by the Co-founder of Water.org were followed by presentations from all the partners steering the WaterCredit program. Presentations mainly entailed the WASH loans given by each partner with some offering quite a bit of information on the percentage given to women and those in rural areas.

Kenya Women Microfinance Bank (KWFT)

  • Duration: 2011-current
  • Branches issuing WASH loans: 230
  • Number of WASH loans: 10,880 loans
  • Purpose: 96% for water tanks, 4% sanitation

Challenges experienced:

  • The bank launched the sanitation product shortly after the water product, but it has not picked up as well up to date, meaning most of the beneficiaries borrow for purposes of increasing their access to water.
  • The cost of the product is also high as the bank is currently giving WASH loans with an interest rate 20%.

EQUITY BANK

  • Duration: 2011-2014
  • Branches issuing WASH loans: 168
  • Number of WASH loans: 7,230
  • Female borrowers: 40%
  • Rural borrowers: 72%
  • Purpose: Maji loans (water loans) 76%, Jamii Safi loans (sanitation loans) 24%

Challenges

  • Isolating and reporting WASH loans is an issue as the loans are issued to all sectors.
  • The cost of the product is still high as the interest rate average 18%.

ECLOF

  • Duration: 2011-2014
  • Number of branches issuing WASH loans: 17
  • Number of WASH loans: 2,561
  • Female borrowers: 55%
  • Rural borrowers: 80%
  • Purpose: Maji Clients experience delays of products from suppliers even after the completion of transaction processes and procedures.
  • The cost of the product is still high and bears the features of other loans advanced by the institution.
  • Safi (water) – 65%, Boma Safi (sanitation) – 17%, Kisima (wells) – 7%, WASH Business loans – 10%, Boreholes – 1%

SMEP – Microfinance

  • Duration: 2011 -2015
  • Number of branches offering WASH loans: 53
  • Number of loans: 1,481
  • Female borrowers: 68%
  • Purpose: water harvesting and water connections – 99%

Challenges

  • Challenges with suppliers as they do not comply with all the requirements of documentation when delivering products to the consumers.
  • The loan repayment rate is still poor (80%).
  • The cost of the product is high.

POSTBANK UGANDA

  • Duration: 2011- current
  • Number of branches issuing WASH loans: 17
  • Number of WASH loans: 64
  • Female borrowers: 17%
  • Rural borrowers: 41%
  • Purpose: piped water, water harvesting, well construction, sanitation
  • Challenges
  • Penetrating in a sector predominantly dominated by grants from NGOs and donors.

VAD – UGANDA

  • Duration: 15th March 2013 -2014
  • Number of branches issuing WASH loans: 1
  • Female borrowers: 55%
  • Rural borrowers: 57%
  • Purpose: rainwater harvesting, VIP, household water connection, sanitation, renovation (sanitation facilities), septic tanks

 

The Future of WaterCredit

Water.org together with all the partners is determined to see the program succeed and advance beyond 2015. Going forward, Water.org intends to extend its programs to benefit more people in Asia, South East Asia, and East Africa. In addition to that, the intention is to partner with other organization beyond microfinance institutions. Another aspect being considered is the implementation of the service model, advisory services, concessionary lending, and many other models that will push water credit to the next level. Currently, Water.org is working towards a fund that will see lending rates of water and sanitation loans subsidized. Finally, founders of the organization are promoting the implementation of innovative web apps that will see individuals and communities apply for water credit online and benefit from highly interactive training material.

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