Posted by: Sabine Kurjo McNeill | April 20, 2008

Drinking Water to the Poor in Bangladesh

Grameen Bank and Veolia Water Partner to Bring Drinking Water to the Rural Poor in BangladeshApril 2, 2008

Plainfield, IL — Grameen Bank and Veolia Water agreed recently to set up a new company called Grameen-Veolia Water Ltd. to supply drinking water to the poorest people of Bangladesh.

The company will be 50% owned by Veolia Water AMI (Africa, Middle East, India) and 50% by Grameen Healthcare (a company doing social business in the areas of health and hygiene) and its mission will be to operate several water treatment and production plants in the poorest villages in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has abundant groundwater resources that are not too deep and therefore provide relatively easy access to water. Unfortunately, for geological reasons, almost all of the groundwater has been found to be contaminated by arsenic, at levels that make it a health hazard. Today, more than 30 million Bangladeshis are exposed to the sometimes fatal consequences of chronic arsenic poisoning.

Grameen and Veolia Water have therefore decided to join forces to provide tailor-made solutions that supply drinking water to the poorest communities of Bangladesh.

“I am very impressed by the social business model developed by Professor Muhammad Yunus. I am convinced that it is precisely what we need to implement effective solutions for the supply of drinking water to the poorest communities”, said Antoine Frérot, CEO of Veolia Water.

With this agreement, Veolia Water paves a new way and contributes to the achievement of the millenium’s goals.

For Professor Muhammad Yunus “Economy must adapt itself to the needs of the poor, and to begin with, provide for their essential needs such as the need for drinking water. Grameen Veolia is dedicated to this aim, and I expect a lot from this partnership.”

The alliance between the precepts of “social business” pioneered by Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2006 and the expertise of Veolia Water, which already supplies drinking water to almost 6.5 million people in Africa and India, will enable Grameen-Veolia Water Ltd to bring drinking water to more than 100 000 people for a total investment estimated at € 500 000. This unique and exemplary partnership will bring people into the economic mainstream by providing an immediately operational and highly effective solution to a fundamental need.

At the end of 2008, the first plant, that is currently in the planning stage, will supply water suitable for cooking and drinking to 25 000 inhabitants of Goalmari, a village 100 km. from Dhaka. Consumers will pay a price that will be set on the basis of what they can afford. All the profits will be reinvested in the further development of the project.

SOURCE: Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies

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