Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Peer Water Exchange | Blue Planet Run

It never ceases to amaze me: the cool social entrepreneurs that I get to meet all the time, coming up with mind-blowing innovative ways to accomplish social good.

I was recently introduced to Lisa Nash of the Blue Planet Run Foundation, about their Peer Water Exchange. Get this: the funding decisions on their new clean water projects are made by peer project leaders. So, your effort to address the needs of your community through a new water or sanitation project is going to be evaluated by a group of people who have been through doing the same thing in their communities. Not only that, projects agree to remain part of the network, providing information about the success of their projects after they are completed.

With all the energy around effectiveness and transparency, PWX is a great example of how to operate a network of hundreds of projects in different communities, with the detailed project information available to donors and partners. Wondering about whether a proposed project duplicates one already built? Apparently this happens a fair amount. You can go to a map and see what's already been done in the district.

I went to their map and quickly found some other leading social entrepreneurs that are part of the PWX network, folks I've had the pleasure of meeting many times in the past decade, people like Joe Madiath of Gram Vikas in Orissa, India, and Bunker Roy of the Barefoot College in northern India. You're known by the company you keep!

As a successful example of how to build a scalable approach to a chronic issue, I noticed that PWX was highlighted in the recent Irvine Foundation convergence report. And of course, under the hood of PWX is technology that makes this kind of network run and hum.

Clean water and sanitation are such fundamental needs, that any system to increases the effectiveness of these efforts as a global society is exciting to see! I'm sure we need more approaches like PWX in other fields.

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