Ned Breslin, Water For People CEO, describes the Everyone Forever approach that focuses on long term outcomes to create a world where everyone has water and sanitation services.

By Edward D. (Ned) Breslin, CEO, Water For People

To move the needle toward a world where everyone actually has water and sanitation services, Water For People believes there must be a fundamental shift in the way sector organizations operate. Rather than focusing on short term inputs like beneficiaries reached, we must focus on long term outcomes.  Does water flow every day, are geographic areas independent of water and sanitation aid?

We believe these outcomes are possible and our Everyone Forever approach will help encourage that shift.

Everyone Forever

Principle 1: Every Family, Every School, Every Clinic

We will model full coverage in 30 districts worldwide by 2018.  This means every household, school, and public health facility/clinic in a defined geographic region—like a district, municipality to city—has access to improved water and sanitation services.

This part of our program is gaining momentum across districts with communities getting creative in their programing.

Principle 2: All Pay

We have challenged staff to achieve full coverage but we do not give them enough money to succeed. Every country has money for water and sanitation investments but few use what they have. Water For People works with finance departments and Ministries of Finance to get money flowing as government - not aid. We also insist communities pay up front, thereby giving them local ownership.

From Bolivia to India, we see districts becoming lead investors in their water and sanitation solutions. This is how it should be.  Unfortunately not all communities have successfully implemented this principle and Water For People works closely to address these challenges over time.

Principle 3: Monitor, Monitor, Monitor

Water For People leverages  tools and technologies to make monitoring more efficient and effective. In 2010 we developed FLOW and we’ve recently launched Re-Imagining Reporting, a new reporting platform that combines storytelling and data visualizations to help make sense of our work. It allows us to show where we work, what programmatic results we are seeing (good and bad), how our finances are allocated, and what we think is happening in the field.

Principle 4: Make Districts Aid Independent

The purpose of aid and philanthropy, in our case, is to catalyze change in partnership with government and the local private sector and to ultimately not be needed anymore. We must create an environment where services continue long after we’ve left the community. Otherwise we have failed to achieve our intended results.

Principle 5: Replicate and Scale

Mayors brag. It is an unexpected lesson but a powerful one. We’ve found that mayors brag about big water and sanitation results within their districts.  They are sold by the increasing flow of money and are excited to tell other mayors.  And so interest in Everyone Forever in the countries where we work is growing exponentially. We see real possibilities of this program influencing and guiding national initiatives along the same lines as Everyone Forever in countries as diverse as Honduras, Bolivia, Rwanda and the state of Bihar in India.

Festival For Water

The principles of Everyone Forever are about getting creative and finding bold new ways to bring sustainable water and sanitation services to people across the developing world. It’s about forming new and unexpected partnerships that can help to build a movement.  This is where Water For People thrives and what makes us excited for the future.  We see this movement building and these five principles shifting the approach to water and sanitation development.

To really achieve success, however, we must look beyond our own efforts and continue raising awareness about an issue that affects everyone around the world.

This Sunday, June 9th Water For People is excited to share our mission with the greater Denver community. With the support of our incredible partners like CH2M HILL we are hosting the Festival For Water, a free music event at Civic Center Park to celebrate water and the innovative organizations working to solve the crisis forever.  From 4-9PM, the event will feature live music, food, and activities for the whole family. We hope you will join us for this local event with a global impact.

Register early at and enter to win some great prizes!

Edward D. (Ned) Breslin joined Water For People as its Director of International Programs in January 2006, and was appointed CEO in 2009. For over two decades, Ned has seen firsthand how conventional humanitarian approaches to safe water and sanitation access in the developing world are not scalable or sustainable—helping some but not others and often failing shortly after implementation. Finding this unacceptable, he has led innovative programmatic efforts that demand, among other things, greater accountability of water and sanitation programs so that lives for everyone are truly transformed, not temporarily but forever, and without the continued dependence upon charitable organizations.

Read Ned’s musings all year long on his blog “Rising Tide.”