SOURCE: WaterPartners International

May 19, 2006 07:00 ET

WaterPartners Gets $4M to Fight Water-Related Diseases

Again Teams With Agora Foundation to Deliver Clean Water Worldwide

KANSAS CITY, MO -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 19, 2006 -- WaterPartners International (WPI) today announced a $4 million grant from the Agora Foundation to bring clean water to the world's poorest communities, furthering WPI's mission to break the cycle of water-related diseases that claim about 5 million lives annually worldwide.

The gift is one of the largest single grants to a non-profit group focused on the world water crisis and was spearheaded by philanthropist Wynnette LaBrosse, the founder of Agora, a donor-advised fund at Peninsula Community Foundation near San Francisco. In 2004, Agora gave $1 million to launch WPI's WaterCredit Initiative, a unique program providing access to financing for the world's poor so they can build and own sustainable water systems.

Agora's latest grant will continue to fund water, sanitation, and health education programs and also will provide operational support for WaterPartners. To date, WaterPartners has provided more than 100,000 people with access to clean water, and the latest Agora grant will likely double that number.

"We're investing in WaterPartners again because our previous past grants immediately helped to save lives, particularly those of children in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, and Kenya," Ms. LaBrosse said. "As Americans, we have a shared responsibility to address this challenge, and Agora's $4 million grant will provide much-needed assistance to the more than 1 billion people who lack access to safe drinking water and the 2.2 billion who lack adequate sanitation."

"These funds will literally help save tens of thousands of lives," said Gary White, executive director of WaterPartners International. "Wynnette and Agora Foundation have long supported our goal of creating a world where everyone has access to clean, safe water, and we expect this generous grant to contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty and despair that accompanies a lack of water and sanitation."

Background

WaterPartners promotes cost-effective community water and sanitation projects and extensive education on the health implications of clean water and sanitation. WPI's programs are targeted to give people most in need the chance to not only survive, but dramatically improve their quality of life. In fifteen years since its first project in Honduras, the Kansas City-based non-profit organization has brought a sustainable supply of clean water to more than 100,000 people worldwide.

WaterPartners most recent innovation is its WaterCredit Initiative, which brings a micro-finance approach to the water issue for the first time. By making small loans available to communities where credit is virtually unknown, WaterPartners has demonstrated that the world's poor can successfully participate in financing their own water supply solutions. With this model, WaterPartners plans to accelerate the pace of development of water and sanitation systems in the developing world.

Breaking the Cycle

WaterPartners projects combine innovative financing, expertise in sanitation, and an emphasis on education to help water-deprived communities break the cycle of disease and devastation they live with daily. In partnership with nonprofits in developing nations, WaterPartners reaches out to local communities in need and partners with them to create local water committees. These committees plan, oversee, construct, and maintain their own water and sanitation facilities. The projects dramatically improve the quality of life for a community and the ability of individuals to improve their own economic, social, and physical conditions.

In many areas, women and their daughters walk great distances to collect often polluted water for their families. Providing a local source of clean water greatly reduces the amount of time spent on this laborious, time-consuming work. The time and energy gained can be used for more productive pursuits, such as income-producing work and school. In addition, abundant, clean water allows for the cultivation of gardens, which significantly increases the amount of food available for families, while surplus vegetables can be sold for income. In combination, these factors demonstrate the ability of WaterPartners projects to transform entire communities.

"WaterPartners has a strong model for identifying the best partner organizations on the ground and implementing a solid 'triple intervention' approach of providing hygiene education, sanitation, and access to clean water," said Dick Matgen, senior program officer at Peninsula Community Foundation and programmatic advisor to Wynnette LaBrosse.

"This grant from the Agora Foundation at Peninsula Community Foundation will enable WaterPartners to develop the lending capacity that will take WaterCredit to scale -- providing more small loans to communities in need of water and sanitation systems -- and, in the process, truly set the stage to achieve global impact," Matgen said. "We also hope this significant endorsement will inspire and make it easier for other funders and partners to join this important work."

Facts about the Water and Sanitation Crisis

The crisis in poor nations is taking a massive toll, especially on women and children.

--  More than 1 billion people don't have access to safe, adequate water.
    
--  More than 2.2 billion people don't have access to adequate sanitation.
    
--  Diarrhea, primarily caused by a lack of clean water and sanitation, is
    the leading cause of childhood death in the world.
    
--  More than 200 million hours are spent each day by women and female
    children walking to collect water -- often polluted water.
    
--  Poor people in the developing world pay, on average, 12 times more per
    liter of water than other citizens. In some urban areas in developing
    countries, the poorest people sometimes take out loans at 60 percent
    interest (or more) just so they can secure a reliable water supply.
    
About WaterPartners International

WaterPartners International is committed to providing clean drinking water to communities in developing countries. The philosophy of WaterPartners is to empower local communities to take responsibility for solving their own water problems. WaterPartners International works through partner organizations in poverty-stricken countries to create local water committees to oversee construction and the ongoing maintenance of the projects. Since the people who benefit have a real stake in the projects, they are far more likely to ensure their continuation.

More than one billion people lack access to a safe supply of drinking water. Water-related diseases are the leading cause of death in the world. WaterPartners was founded in 1990 because efforts to address the world's top health problem were inadequate and inefficient. Since then, WaterPartners has developed a 15-year track record for providing solutions that work, setting new standards for innovation and best practices in the sector. For more information, please visit www.water.org.

About Agora Foundation and Peninsula Community Foundation

Agora Foundation is the donor-advised fund of philanthropist Wynnette LaBrosse at Peninsula Community Foundation. LaBrosse chose the name Agora, a Greek word meaning "a forum or marketplace for the exchange of ideas," to advance her interest in grant work that advances issues centered primarily around women, education, the environment, conflict resolution, and public policy.

For more than 40 years, Peninsula Community Foundation has connected people, ideas, and resources for the common good in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Established in 1964, the Foundation has granted more than $480 million to nonprofits locally, nationally, and internationally, and is the philanthropic partner to more than 750 families, individuals, and corporations. The Foundation enables donors to support the causes they care about, and does so with the entrepreneurial spirit that is a hallmark of the Silicon Valley region. Of the estimated 700 community foundations across the United States, Peninsula Community Foundation is among the top 20 in assets and the top 10 in annual grantmaking. Information is available at www.pcf.org.

Contact Information