“Is water still running?” is perhaps the most important question when considering water initiatives worldwide, concludes Water for People CEO Ned Breslin. He’s tired of seeing broken hand pumps and taps litter Africa, Asia, and Latin America. These signs of failed projects underscore the critical need to overhaul water aid for real impact.
To celebrate World Water Day, PopTech caught up with Water For People CEO and PopTech speaker Ned Breslin, who was awarded the 2011 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship by the Skoll Foundation this past week.
Water For People (WFP) helps people in developing countries improve quality of life by supporting the development of locally sustainable, long-lasting drinking water resources and sanitation facilities. The organization’s main tenets focus on following through and following up after the water systems have been built; no more abandoned wells and broken water pumps. Breslin framed the mission of WFP’s work during his PopTech talk by asking, "What happens when we leave? What happens when that system has to run for a while? Are the children still smiling? Are the girls back in school? Is water flowing?"
We wanted to see what was on tap (excuse the pun!) for WFP on WWD, how this day can help redefine aid, and what accountability measures WFP holds itself to in developing sustainable water practices.
PopTech: What is Water For People doing for World Water Day?
Ned Breslin: Probably the most significant push we are making on World Water Day is a session in Washington DC on learning and improving programmatic performance [featuring Kate Fogelberg and Susan Davis, Water For People; Marc Manara, Acumen Fund; Marla Smith-Nilson, Water1st; moderated by Jon Sawyer, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting]. We have been part of a series of meetings over the past seven months that are designed to reinforce solid programmatic work around the world while addressing weaknesses we see on the ground in new ways. This work has been done in collaboration with the IRC in Holland, GWC and others. The learning session in DC is a further step along this important path of building on strength and addressing challenges. A number of organizations will present on their actual experiences so that we can all sit back and see ways in which we can all improve our work. It should be very exciting.