September 26, 2018

Wait Just a Minute: CEO and Founder of Water.org Gary White

Our web series, Wait Just a Minute, asks experts to answer complex questions about global affairs in 60 seconds. In this episode, CEO and cofounder of Water.org and WaterEquity, Gary White, explains the global water crisis, how cities can improve water access, what "water equity" is, and names his favorite movie from Water.org cofounder, Matt Damon.

 

What is the global water crisis?

Today, when 844 million people wake up, they don't know where their water is going to come from.

Who is most affected?

It's the poor who are paying huge amounts of their income for water if they live in an urban area, because they have to go and purchase water from a water vendor. Sometimes 15x more per gallon than if they had a connection to the public utility.

How can cities improve access?

There needs to be much more capital coming in from the top down to build out the infrastructure, particularly in poorer areas.  But equally, the poor need to be able to pay a water tariff, they need to be able to get connected to the utilities. And it’s reasonable for them to pay a connection fee to help capitalize the systems. And so this bottom up capital that we're helping unleash with water credit through water.org gets those small loans to people so they can connect to the utility and become a paying customer.

What is water equity?

Water equity finds those social impact investors who want a financial return, a modest one, but they want the social return. So we take that capital and we invest that in these microloans.

Favorite Matt Damon movie? (his water.org cofounder)

I love the Bourne series.

 

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The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. We convene leading global voices and conduct independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

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