Co-authored by Silvia Ortiz-Stradtmann, Water and Sanitation Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank

The PepsiCo Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), together with other partners, are in Colombia today for the official launch of a series of pilot projects to tackle water and sanitation challenges faced in rural Colombian communities. The projects will test and develop innovative models to provide sustainable water and sanitation services to underserved communities.

Water and sanitation play a significant role in poverty eradication, health and education and are intrinsically linked to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In countries like Colombia, there continue to be challenges in reaching the water related MDGs given that there is only a 45% water and 16.8% sanitation coverage in the country’s rural areas.

The AquaFund – a program supported with funds from the IDB, the PepsiCo Foundation, the government of Switzerland, and the government of Austria – provides grants that target the water-related Millennium Development Goals and support the IDB’s Water and Sanitation Initiative. As partners to the AquaFund, the IDB and PepsiCo Foundation are proud to be involved in efforts to bring about tangible solutions. Specifically, these pilot projects will provide valuable lessons and best practices related to:

a)     access to water and sanitation in rural public schools

b)     individual solutions to water and sanitation in disperse rural households

c)     household connections to water and sanitation networks for low-income/ peri-urban communities

d)     technical assistance to rural communities so that they can manage their own water systems.

The IDB, with resources from the Japanese Fund and the AquaFund, will contribute US$ 2 million to implement these activities. PepsiCo Colombia is also providing key resources to implement the communication strategy for the projects.

As this pilot to improve water and sanitation services for those living in poverty advances, we look forward to sharing stories from the field.