More than one billion people in the world today lack access to safe water, and more than 40% of the global population—more than 3 billion people—lack adequate sanitation. The burden of this reality falls overwhelmingly on the shoulders of women and girls in the developing world, who spend hours each day collecting water rather than in school or at jobs; it is estimated that 200 million hours are spent each day collecting water, and 440 million school days are lost each year. The toll on human productivity, health and overall well-being that results from this situation is without parallel in the world.
In both the developed and developing worlds, water supply is becoming an increasingly challenging and potentially dangerous issue. Although there has always been approximately the same amount of water in the world, it is not allocated equitably or commensurate with where humans are located. As a result, we live in an increasingly water scarce world. With population growth and economic development, more people demand access to more water, which creates a water-stressed environment that cannot sustain itself or the human demands placed on it. Therefore, water is poised to become an even greater source of conflict, war and natural resources management-related debates in the future.
Orrick recognizes the threats that the global water and sanitation crisis presents—not only directly to its clients, but to the global community and in particular communities in the developing world. Orrick is committed to supporting its clients focused on improving access to safe water supplies, delivery and provision of safe sanitation, development of effective clean water technologies and sanitation solutions, and promotion of best practices at all points in the value chain. Some of our clients serve vulnerable populations in urban, peri-urban (slum) and rural environments, and we support their efforts working with local partners, national and international government agencies to achieve their goals.
Orrick serves as outside counsel to Water.org, a nonprofit on the cutting edge of addressing the global water and sanitation crisis, and has represented the organization on a variety of matters. Water.org's largest initiative, WaterCredit, forges linkages between the water, sanitation and microfinance sectors, and helps microfinance institutions (MFIs) develop scalable, sustainable loan portfolios focused on the water and sanitation needs of their clients. This is an example of cross-sector collaboration and orthogonal trends, which are playing an increasing role in the world of social enterprise. In addition to WaterCredit, Water.org is involved in global water and sanitation advocacy efforts, information and communication technology (ICT) solutions for water and sanitation, and financial innovation focused on utilities, governments and private sector stakeholders. Orrick attorneys have provided corporate, tax, intellectual property, finance and other regulatory assistance to this client for several years.