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World Water Day 2021: The Ripple Effect of Investing in Water

March 22, 2021

By Kumar Ranganathan , Practice Lead, Senior Director, Water, Sanitation and Irrigation

Since 2004, MCC has invested $2.2 billion in clean water, sanitation, and natural resource improvement projects in partner countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

This year, World Water Day highlights the theme “Valuing Water”— a concept that resonates with MCC and its partner countries because investments in water infrastructure are often critical to economic growth and poverty reduction. From household drinking water to public health, power-generation to crop irrigation, water may mean different things to different compacts, but its importance to people, households, businesses, and countries is universal.

Below are some highlights from MCC water-related projects that are creating ripple effects in lives and livelihoods around the world.

Sierra Leone and Zambia

For the women and girls in Sierra Leone and Zambia, access to water means freedom from walking, on average, 4 miles (6 km) multiple times a day to collect water for their families.
Water kiosks in Freetown, Sierra Leone
The MCC Sierra Leone Threshold Program improved access to water in the capital, Freetown, including in locations that hadn’t had water access in more than a decade. In addition to installing 10 new water kiosks and bringing safe, accessible, and sustainable water closer than ever, the kiosks were specifically designed to ensure the safety of women and children when they collect water at the kiosks. MCC established certain hours of operation and installed secure lighting to improve security, so Sierra Leoneans not only have access to clean water, but feel safe accessing it.
A woman walks in Jack Compound, Lusaka, Zambia.
For the residents of Lusaka, Zambia, reliable access to clean water, drainage and sanitation means new opportunities and a chance to live longer, healthier, more productive lives. MCC's $255 million investment in Zambia’s water and sanitation sector was one of the agency’s largest urban water investments to date. In partnership with the Zambian government, the compact aimed to decrease the incidence of water related diseases and mitigate the damage and losses to businesses and residential areas due to flooding. The investment also improved access to water, giving female citizens and girls a better chance to secure a brighter economic future for themselves and their families.


Mt. Coffee Hydropower Plant, Liberia
For the student in Liberia, water means education and a brighter future for all Liberians. This year, MCC celebrates the successful completion of its Liberia Compact, which rehabilitated the Mt. Coffee Hydropower Plant. By harnessing the power of the St. Paul river, the investment has more than doubled the country's entire power generating capacity, while ensuring the sustainable protection of the river and its ecology. Reliable access to power through the river allows students the opportunity to study after the sun sets, enables people to receive care in a hospital, and makes it possible to establish or expand a business.


Settlement in Ulaanbaatar
For the residents and business owners of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, meeting their demand for water is critical to quality of life and economic growth. Rapid urbanization and climate change have placed enormous stress on Ulaanbaatar’s water resources, leading to an imminent shortage. MCC is investing in critical infrastructure and supporting policy reforms that will help sustainably increase the capital city’s supply of water and stem the impact of an impending water crisis. The MCC compact aims to increase the supply of water to Ulaanbaatar by more than 80 percent, putting the city on a better footing to sustain its future private sector-led growth.


Boy on streets in Dili, Timor-Leste
For the children in Timor-Leste’s capital, Dili, access to safe, clean water and modern sanitation services means better health and nutrition. Timor-Leste currently has high morbidity rates resulting from diseases brought on by contaminated water. Once implemented, the MCC-Timor-Leste compact aims to build the country’s first piped sanitation system, improve water treatment, and rehabilitate the drainage system in Dili. Improving water quality, sanitation, and drainage in Timor-Leste will create the necessary resilience for the country to meet future health challenges, grow the economy, and reduce poverty.


For the people of Niger, water means food security and resilience in the face of climate change. MCC’s Niger compact is building access to water for agricultural productive uses. Because of frequent drought and floods that decimate crops and productive assets, much of the Nigerien population struggles to maintain a subsistence existence. The compact is investing in large- and small-scale irrigation systems to increase crop production intensities, yields, and profitability. We are establishing water points for livestock and improving the management of natural resources to strengthen rural communities’ climate-resiliency. And we are providing analytical and modeling tools for sustainable groundwater planning, development and management. Watch a video of the construction of the large-scale irrigation project in Konni.


Livestock graze in the Ngalenka Perimeter, an irrigated perimeter in northern Senegal.
To the farmer in Senegal, plagued by drought, water means boosting economic growth and preventing food scarcity. The first MCC compact with Senegal invested nearly $170 million to improve the productivity of the country’s agricultural sector by extending and improving the quality of irrigation in the Senegal River Delta. The compact was designed to increase rural incomes and employment and enhance the competitiveness of the Senegal River Valley, which is Senegal’s rice production heartland.

El Salvador

Aerial view of construction of the El Zonte Water Treatment Plant, El Salvador.

For the people of Chiltiupán, El Salvador, better water quality means economic growth. MCC’s compact in the country includes construction of the El Zonte-Chiltiupán wastewater treatment plant, which will improve quality of life for more than 2,000 people, help control pollution of the El Zonte River, maintain the attractiveness of the beach area, and encourage tourism.