Community Water Initiative


In response to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the Community Water Initiative (CWI) was launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2004 in seven countries (Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Mauritania, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Uganda), and was recently expanded to three new countries (Mali, Niger and Senegal). It receives financial support from SIDA, Government of Luxembourg, Government of Norway, and other donors. The programme is implemented through UNDP's Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP).

Project Activities

Since 2004, CWI has provided about $3.5 million funding through through more than 150 projects (up to $25,000 per project), bringing water supply and sanitation services to more than over a million people directly. The types of activities supported by CWI projects include community-based water supply and sanitation services using low-cost systems manageable by communities; water resource conservation and sustainable land management to mitigate effects of drought and flooding in adapting to climate change; providing clean energy for water pumping; capacity development for community level governance through community water management committees, women's empowerment, and the establishment of water user fee schemes.

Community-based solutions to water supply and sanitation. CWI supports decentralized, demand-driven, innovative, low-cost, and community-based water resource management and water supply and sanitation projects in rural areas. It is rooted in the strong belief that local management and community initiatives play a key role in ensuring and sustaining the success of enhancing water supply and sanitation services to poor communities. CWI channels funds directly to local communities in need of support.

Climate adaptability and environmentally sustainable approach. Implemented by GEF-SGP, CWI has adopted a distinctive perspective that considers environmental sustainability of the water supply activities it supports, ensuring synergies and linkages with GEF-SGP activities. For example, CWI promotes the use of solar energy for water pumping, and integrates water supply activities with conservation of water sources, reforestation, and water resource management. In Mauritania, a strategy to promote carbon-neutral water services has been implemented, combining an environmental approach with development practices.

Focus on the poor and marginalized populations and women's roles. CWI aims to support poor and marginalized populations to acquire one of the most basic human needs—water supply and sanitation. It not only benefits women and children whose lives and health are impacted most adversely by the lack of accessible clean water and sanitation and the burden of fetching water over long distances. It also highlights women's knowledge and responsibilities as managers of water at the household level and their potential roles in community water committees.

Capacity development and sustainability. CWI focuses on building local community arrangements and capacity for developing, maintaining and expanding new systems to ensure sustainability of the benefits. It mobilizes local leadership and participation of community women in local water management institutions as well as training local people in maintenance and repair. Management committees or groups have been established and continue managing water systems beyond the completion of the projects, instituting user fee arrangements, as appropriate, to ensure financing for management, maintenance and repair.


  • Winning of global awards: two projects won Germany's Wisons Award 2008; four projects in the finalists for Kyoto Grand Prize 2009; one project won UNDP Equator Initiative Award
  • Projects provided water and sanitation services to more than one million poor people
  • A total of 507 water and sanitation facilities were established in Mali, Niger and Senegal;
  • 1,141 people were trained, among which 866 are women and girls on water and sanitation management
  • In Senegal alone, more than 700 tons of water are being provided to poor people;
  • Management capacity is being enhanced and impacts are being sustainbed ( 102 local committees established and running in Mali, Niger and Sengal)

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