British multinational banking firm, the HSBC Group has launched a five-year $100 million water programme and selects Ghana to be one of the beneficiary countries of the project.
The investment is to help transform the lives of more than 1 million people through providing access to safe water and spearheading water protection projects.
The five-year programme, launched by HSBC Group Chairman Douglas Flint on June 10, 2012, involves working in a groundbreaking partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), WaterAid and the Earthwatch, who will carry out the projects in both developed and growing markets.
In a press statement, the Bank said WaterAid will help 1.1 million people gain access to safe water and 1.9 million to improved hygiene and sanitation in Ghana, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Nigeria.
The WWF, on the other hand will work with over a thousand businesses and over a hundred thousand fishers and farmers in five river basins in Asia, East Africa and South America to promote more efficient use of water in their practices.
While the Earthwatch will set up research projects in over 20 cities worldwide, working with local conservation partners to address urban water management issues.
The reason for the $100 million investment into water, HSBC explained that it commissioned Frontier Economics, an economics consultancy with wide experience of the water industry, to research the links between investment in water projects and economic growth and it was found that “every $1 invested in water infrastructure can deliver nearly $5 of wider economic benefits over the long term, in addition to the social and environmental benefits”.
The report also revealed that achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on water supply and sanitation worldwide would amount to an equivalent of more than $56 billion per annum in potential economic gains between now and 2015, and that providing universal access to safe water and sanitation would imply a potential economic gain of $220 billion per annum.
Frontier Economics believes that in some African countries, the investment required to secure universal access to water would be paid back in only three years.
HSBC’s Chairman, Mr Flint pointed out that poor management of scarce water resources could mean “GDP growth in river basins would not materialise”, while investment in the provision of safe water and sanitation can yield significant returns.
By Ekow Quandzie