for-profit sector; also, many of the NGO partners are in some respects ‘competitors’ in the field and thus not always likely to or able to share experiences. Second, GWC is structured to be a financing institution where funds are generally used as leverage and sometimes put towards building local monitoring and evaluation capacity in connection with ongoing projects. Finally GWC also functions as a vehicle for identifying projects and initiatives where sponsors, who may or may not also be partners, may then fund separately. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and several other organizations not formally aligned with the partnership have participated in GWC meetings and are supporting aspects of projects which were originally identified by the GWC.
Currently the GWC lists 22 partners from the private sector, foundations and NGO community. For many partners clean water access/sanitation are important issues within their individual organizations’ missions and business models, but their individual incentives for joining the GWC are more nuanced. The number and level of commitment of private sector partners in the GWC is one of its distinctive characteristics. Private sector partners have been motivated by the opportunity to learn from other partners how to effectively develop water and sanitation projects which reduce risk to their facilities. They have been and continue to invest in water and sanitation projects in the communities in which they operate, both to reduce risks to their own business and as part of their corporate social responsibility. Several partners expressed interest in being able to address the root of systemic problems, such as the lack of access to clean water and sanitation practices, which has required that they engage more and more stakeholders. The private sector partners, all major water consumers with several hundred plants worldwide, are also quite aware of the reputational benefits they derive from being visibly engaged in addressing a global problem. For the NGO partners, which are also diverse in terms of their strategic niches and worldviews, the GWC provides an opportunity to learn, innovate, leverage corporate partners’ resources, and collaborate in on-the-ground work and applied research. Although NGO partners do not contribute funds directly to the GWC as core support, they do contribute funds to individual projects, thus their funds then leverage additional funds from the GWC and potentially the private sector and foundation partners.
The GWC focuses its activities in three main areas: (1) Innovative Community-Based Financing, (2) Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Schools, and (3) Communications and outreach. In an effort to work towards the organization’s mission of triggering a global movement to ensure universal access to safe water and sanitation, the GWC prioritizes community-based creative financing and works with entrepreneurs, financial institutions, governments, and community-based organizations to identify barriers and opportunities for making sustainable investments at the local level. To date,