British multinational bank HSBC has launched a new US$ 100 million, five year partnership with WaterAid, WWF and the Earthwatch Institute. The HSBC Water Programme will bring safe water and improved sanitation to over a million people; tackle water risks in river basins; and raise awareness about the global water challenge.
The programme is backed-up by report  commissioned by HSBC, which warns that the predicted high-growth rate in several of the world’s most populous river basins may not materialise because of their unsustainable water consumption . The report also highlights “the powerful economic rationale for improving access to freshwater and sanitation, at a time when total aid for water access and sanitation has actually declined”.
Providing universal access to safe water and sanitation would imply potential economic gain of US$ 220 billion per year, the report said. It stated that the average return on each dollar invested in universal access was just under US$ 5, even after taking maintenance costs into account. In Latin America the figure is US$ 16 while in some African countries, the capital investment would be paid back in only three years. Several countries in Africa and Latin America would gain an average of more than 15% of their annual GDP from achieving universal access.
As part of the HSBC Water Programme, WaterAid will provide clean water to 1.1 million people and sanitation and hygiene education to 1.9 million people in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana. Priorities include educating adolescent girls on menstrual hygiene management; providing separate water and sanitation facilities in schools; and influencing national and local governments to prioritise water and sanitation services.
WWF will work with local authorities, businesses and communities to implement new practices and policies for five key basins: the Yangtze, Ganges, Mekong, Pantanal and Rift Valley. Earthwatch will be engaging over 100,000 HSBC employees in monitoring and research of freshwater resources worldwide.
View the HSBC Water Programme video from WaterAid.
The HSBC Water Programme is a follow-up to the US$ 100 million HSBC Climate Partnership (2007-2011), which also included WWF and Earthwatch are partners.
 Frontier Economics, 2012. Exploring the links between water and economic growth : a report prepared for HSBC. London, UK;: Frontier Economics. Available at: <http://www.thewaterhub.org/research/>
- Developing countries and donors agree to tackle the water and sanitation crisis, E-Source, 30 May 2012
- Prioritise slum dwellers for water and sanitation investment, says WaterAid manifesto, E-Source, 28 Oct 2011
Related web site: HSBC Water Programme – www.thewaterhub.org
Source: HSBC, 11 Jun 2012 ; Damian Carrington, Rivers will generate a quarter of GDP by 2050, study shows, Guardian, 11 Jun 2012