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Access to Clean Water

According to the United Nations, 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services. Water is at the core of sustainable development and is critical for socio-economic development, energy and food production, healthy ecosystems and for human survival itself. Water is also at the heart of adaptation to climate change, serving as the crucial link between the society and the environment.  And every country is affected (consider the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, USA). Water has been declared a universal human right.  Now there are many organizations and initiatives underway around the world to address the clean water problem.  How can the project management profession contribute to these efforts?


General Information

SDG 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all - The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. To learn more, visit https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html.

UNESCO (2024). Water for Prosperity and Peace, The United Nations World Water Development Report 2024, published by UNESCO on behalf of UN-Water. Read report at https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000388948

United Nations - Global Issues - Water - The United Nations has long been addressing the global crisis caused by insufficient water supply to satisfy basic human needs and growing demands on the world’s water resources to meet human, commercial and agricultural needs. Learn more about the global water crisis at https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/water

7 Reasons We're Facing a Global Water Crisis - Article by Leah Schleifer in August 2017 published by World Resources Institute.  Droughts in Somalia. Water rationing in Rome. Flooding in Jakarta and Harvey-battered Houston. It doesn't take a hydrologist to realize that there is a growing global water crisis. Each August, water experts, industry innovators, and researchers gather in Stockholm for World Water Week to tackle the planet's most pressing water issues. What are they up against this year? Here's a quick rundown on the growing global water crisis. Read article here.



Initiatives, Programs, Projects


Freshwater Project InternationalAn international initiative to provide clean water, safe sanitation & hygiene facilities to people in villages, schools and health centers in Malawi, Africa. This group’s approach is unique in that they focus on one country and partner with communities to create projects that have a high level of impact and sustainability. The JOY of FRESHWATER means that people in Malawi can enjoy good health, attend school, provide for their families and improve their life quality. Learn more at https://www.freshwaterintl.org/

The Water Project -The Water Project, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization unlocking human potential by providing reliable water projects to communities in sub-Saharan Africa who suffer  needlessly from a lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation. For ten years, we have been helping communities gain access to clean, safe water by providing training, expertise and financial support for water project construction through our staff and implementing partners. Learn and contribute at https://thewaterproject.org/

Wells Bring Hope – A Southern California-based non-profit that sponsors clean water projects in Niger, West Africa, the poorest country in the world (per UN measurements). Officially receiving its non-profit status in 2010 but begun in 2008 by Barbara Goldberg and other women,  Wells Bring Hope raises money for wells and partners with World Vision, which does the actual boots on the ground work to drill wells to bring fresh water and sanitation to villagers in Niger.  100% of all donations goes to drilling a well. The organization's model is  designed to avoid problems faced by some other water nonprofits. All employees used to drill the wells are from West Africa and speak the local language and understand the local culture and religion.  They have two requirements of villages in return for drilling the wells: 1. The village must contribute a small amount of money so they feel a sense of ownership. 2. The village must create a maintenance committee (half of whom are women), which is trained in sanitation and hygiene and how to build latrines. The committee trains the rest of the village. Once this effort gets underway, the drilling team comes with their drilling rig and drills a deep well down to the water table.  WBH continues to monitor and support each village for 15 years after a well is drilled. Learn more at https://wellsbringhope.org/



African Water Facility (AWF) - An initiative led by the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) to mobilise resources to finance water resources development activities in Africa. It is hosted and managed by the African Development Bank (AfDB). The AWF provides grants and expert technical assistance to implement innovative water projects and raise investment for water projects throughout Africa. Over its past decade of operation, the AWF developed a portfolio of grants covering 104 projects in 52 countries including Africa’s most vulnerable states. For more, click here or here.


Papers, Reports, Studies

Kwena, R. (2021). The relationship between post implementation impact evaluation and sustainability of rural water projects in Kenya; PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue V, May. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/pmwj105-May2021-Kwena-post-implementation-impact-analysis-and-sustainability-of-rural-water-projects.pdf

Pells, D. L. (2010). Clean Water as a Human Right! Implications for Project Management, PM World Today, December. Republished in PM World Journal, January 2018.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/pmwj66-Jan2018-Pells-Clean-Water-as-a-Human-Right-2010-Editorial-second-edition.pdf.

The United Nations 2019 World Water Development Report: Leaving No One Behind. The report published by Unesco on its website in March 2019, studies various factors leading to discrimination. As the sixth in a series of annual, thematic reports, the 2019 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report examines how improved water resource management and access to water supply and sanitation services can help address the causes and alleviate the impacts of poverty and social inequity. It provides insights and guidance in helping identify ‘who’ is being left behind, and describes how existing frameworks and mandates, such as the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs and human rights-based approaches, can help ‘reach the furthest first’ through improved water management. Full report available at https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000367306 (Gogate)




Articles, Opinions, Personal Stories

Harding, I. (2020). Using Project Management Skills to Provide Safe Water to Villages in Niger, PM World Journal, Vol IX, Issue III, March. https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/pmwj91-Mar2020-Harding-using-project-management-to-provide-safe-water.pdf



Educational Multi-Media Lectures, Presentations, Videos




Other Resources

Plugging the data gap: Google, European Commission's Joint Research Centre and UN Environment unveil freshwater monitoring app (2019) - A story on UN Environment website on March 11th announcing that the UN Environmental Programme along with Google and European Commission’s Joint Research Centre had unveiled a web-based platform to monitor global freshwater ecosystems. Available online at https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/plugging-data-gap-google-european-commissions-joint-research-centre-and-un (Gogate)




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This section of the library created January 2018