Four ways OPIC projects support access to water around the world
World Water Week seeks to highlight the key role that water plays in advancing global health and prosperity, and to foster discussion around innovative and effective ways to increase access to water for drinking, agriculture and health and sanitation. This year the occasion follows closely on the heels of the U.N.’sFinancing for Development conference last month and seeks to build awareness of the critical role water plays in successful development.
Water is a prominent theme across OPIC’s portfolio. Here are four of the ways OPIC projects are increasing access to water in developing countries.
- Desalination: In Algeria, OPIC financing supported construction of a reverse-osmosis water desalination plant that has helped alleviate severe water shortages by providing water for about 350,000 families in and around Algiers. The facility, which opened in 2008, was Algeria’s first privately-owned desalination plant.
- Irrigation: Steady access to water is one of the biggest challenges faced by the world’s smallholder farmers, especially those working in regions with short rainy seasons. OPIC supports multiple projects that help small farmers buy equipment. By providing financing to a microfinance institution focused on agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, OPIC has helped farmers purchase micro-irrigation equipment so they can grow more food and earn higher prices by selling in the off season.
- Sanitation: OPIC political risk insurance is supporting a major infrastructure project to modernize the water system in Ghana, where a shortage of clean water and poor sanitation is associated with widespread health problems. The Ghana National Water Infrastructure Modernization project is expected to increase the availability of clean water and increase the efficiency of the country’s water treatment plants.
- Support for small business water bottlers: In many developing countries that lack sterile systems for water storage, demand for bottled water is high. In the West Bank, OPIC’s support of the Middle East Investment Initiative has supported loans to multiple small businesses, including one water bottling business that has provided an alternative to water stored in rooftop tanks, where microbe contamination was common.