Why should poor people have to pay for their basic Human Right to Water?

Actor Matt Damon makes it sound like a great idea to give small loans to poor families so they can get access to improved water and sanitation. After all, he is the co-founder of the NGO water.org, promoters of the WaterCredit loan:

“Gary, my partner, pioneered this idea of, you give people loans. So, for instance, in a place like India in a slum, the municipality will be pumping water right through the street … If you could give them a loan to connect directly to the municipality, so you pipe the water directly into their house, a 75 Dollar loan, they use that time that they were wasting waiting in line for water – working, they pay off the loan at rates of like 98 percent, 99 percent. And they’re using that time in a more productive way.”

He makes it sound easy and appealing. And it is appealing. I’m sure Matt Damon, who is known for ardently supporting social causes, sees this as a real solution. The trouble is, his model doesn’t tackle the fundamental problems – like piped water actually being in the slum in the first place, which it normally isn’t. Damon also doesn’t contemplate the fairness of asking the poor to pay for this human right with a loan. Will the poor want to pay? Will they even be able to pay? This idea of microfinance for water and sanitation may make an already unfair state of affairs even unfairer.

Read the rest on Governance Across Borders 

Matt Damon microfinance

Matt Damon on the David Letterman Show



Abhay N

Author : 

Abhay is the founder and managing editor of India Microfinance. He is passionate about microfinance, financial inclusion and social entrepreneurship in India.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Dr.Mrs Sushma Joiya

    October 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Dear Sir,
    You have taken a right step to improve the water and sanitation condition of the poor through a very well requir5ed facility of obtaining loan to get pure water. At least the poor people will also lern the cost of water which is becoming short day by day. It is observed thazt ther villagers are spoiling water for nothing and are misusing all the time. Hope your NGO will teach the value of water.
    Congratulations for taking such step through water.org.
    Dr Mrs Sushma Joiya
    Integraterd cCongress of women entrepreneurs;.

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