Global Water Challenge

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Founded in 2006, Global Water Challenge (GWC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) coalition of leading organizations committed to addressing water and sanitation issues. Drawing upon the experience, expertise and assets of its members, GWC is able to create partnerships that achieve far greater results than any one organization could by itself.

Since its inception, GWC is a powerful catalyst for fostering collective action in the water sector across three core functions:

LEARNING: GWC is committed to improving the long-term impact of investments in the sector by working with its members and other partners to identify and share important lessons and best practices.

CONNECTING: GWC is a platform for collaboration that unites corporations, implementing nonprofits, research institutes, and governmental agencies in partnerships that leverage their unique resources and expertise. In addition, GWC connects citizens with policymakers to increase the priority placed on water and sanitation globally.

INVESTING: GWC has invested in and collaborated with members on innovative programs and campaigns globally. Some examples include:

  • Schools Programs: GWC’s investment in schools programs has benefited nearly 500,000 students in Kenya, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Tanzania, and Mexico. These programs have enhanced children’s health and education, paving the way for more opportunities for the students, their families and their countries.
  • Ashoka Changemakers: In 2008, GWC and Ashoka Changemakers partnered to find and support social entrepreneurs with groundbreaking approaches to water and sanitation delivery.
  • Building off the successes of its first three years, GWC formed a strategic alliance with the Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF) in April 2010. GETF’s experience in creating public-private partnerships will help GWC achieve its mission of accelerating the flow of clean water and sanitation to those most in need.


Around the globe, nearly 800 million people lack access to water and over 2.5 billion lack access to sanitation. The scope and impact of this crisis are staggering. The United Nations has reported that more people die from water- and sanitation-related diseases than from all forms of violence, including war. According to the United Nations Development Program, every US$1 spent on water and sanitation generates a return of US$9 in saved time, increased productivity and reduced health costs in Africa.

Beyond loss of life, water poverty and inadequate sanitation cripple all development efforts. A lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities keeps children, especially girls, from attending school. Women spend an average of 3-5 hours each day fetching water, missing out on opportunities to perform other tasks or engage in economically productive activity. Parents miss work due to water-related illness or caring for sick family members. Existing medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, are exacerbated because of unsafe water and inadequate sanitation. Climate change, population growth, industrialization and urbanization all threaten to make the global WASH crisis much worse.

Fortunately, there is room for hope. Waterborne illness is preventable and lasting water supply and sanitation solutions exist. Through concerted efforts by governments, corporations, foundations and nongovernmental organizations, roughly 200 million people have gained access to clean water during the past decade. However, even with these efforts, many countries are unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for water and even fewer will reach the MDG for sanitation. Unprecedented collaboration between all sectors of society is needed in order to achieve sustainable solutions to this challenge.


Global Water Challenge brings together leading organizations in the water and sanitation sector to address this fundamental issue through partnerships and innovative approaches to water and sanitation. Drawing upon the experience, expertise and assets of its members, GWC is able to create partnerships that achieve far greater results than any one organization could by itself.

See the full list of Global Water Challenge members.

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