Why small investments matter
Decades of investment in water supplies for third world countries has shown the best financial strategies use small investments in local communities. This is actually true for Western countries, too. For the most part, smaller investments are devoid of time-consuming red tape, often making them more effective than large financial programmes run by organisations like Water Aid or the Red Cross.
Green investments have become very popular over the last decade, with a variety of small-scale investors supporting local programmes. These can cover everything, from water supply and logistics to eco-conservation.
In Horizon International’s report on the green economy, it stated that through varying degrees of investments the gap between countries that have a sufficient water supply and those that do not is narrowing:
“The Green Economy Report shows that improvements in water productivity, as well as increases in supply (from new dams and desalination plants and more recycling) are expected to narrow this gap by about 40 per cent, but the remaining 60 per cent will have to come from infrastructure investment, water policy reform and the development of new technologies.”
Extolling the benefits for investors
The sad truth of water investment is that some are put off making commitments because they see no economic benefit. However, there has been a drive to promote water supply investment as a worthwhile endeavour, arguing using objective facts rather than with an emotional call to arms. In this vein, a 2011 OECD report discussed the economic benefits to investors as going hand in hand with humanitarian bonuses.
Reports like this are perfect for persuading reluctant investors. They show just how much good will come to both parties if they choose to invest in water and sanitation. Extolling the myriad benefits is key to small projects garnering broader interest.
Making It local
Tailoring projects to make sure local virtues are prioritised is key. Promoting local, rather than global language and aesthetics has become an attractive lure in encouraging investment. As the business world is increasingly globalised, local focus can become lost in the noise. Pulling focus to issues like these carries a great deal of weight with the general population.
The UK has been a beneficiary of these new, smaller investment strategies. Thanks to local investment, projects to improve Yorkshire’s water supply might never have gone ahead. The national government might never have made them a priority, with other more pressing issues elsewhere.
The plans laid out for Yorkshire are myriad. By 2020, the county aims to reach a number of goals, including:
- Reduce leakage by 10 million litres per day
- Restore 379km of river environment to good ecological status, across rivers Aire, Swale, Derwent, Don and Rother.
- Enhance drinking water quality at five treatment works, serving the towns of Scarborough, Selby and Sheffield.
- Maintain resilience and upgrade the sewer network to meet the needs of a growing population.
The remarkable rise of small investments in water supply shows no sign of abating. With successes like the Yorkshire projects now in motion, we’re sure to see more examples of local investments changing communities around the world.
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