WaterCredit: Catalyzing Access to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation in Bangladesh
In partnership with four local microfinance institutions, Water.org implemented a multiyear program (July 2014 to September 2018) to develop sustainable financial products for the poor to invest in their water and sanitation needs. At the time of the evaluation in February 2018, the program had mobilized more than $19.6 million in commercial capital to finance microloans for safe water and/or sanitation and improved the lives of an estimated 428,000 people.
This program evaluation aimed to assess program effectiveness, evaluate impacts, and synthesize lessons for future improvements. It utilized a mixed-methods approach and evaluated the program on the following aspects:
- Grant performance: program achievement with respect to key targets.
- Impact on households: impact on hygiene behavior, quality of life, and socio-economic outcomes.
- Impact on microfinance institutions: progress and sustainability of water and sanitation loan portfolios.
- System level influence: degree to which affordable capital has been increased and resulting ecosystems.
The WaterCredit experiences in Bangladesh demonstrate a latent demand for water and sanitation loans, which MFIs are well-positioned to meet. The portfolio analysis found that water and sanitation financing can be viable for poor households. Offering water and sanitation loans at scale can also help make these water supply and sanitation (WSS) portfolios viable and sustainable. Flexible lending products and hygiene education campaigns that are designed to meet the needs of the poor encourage greater uptake of WSS loans.