Q&A with Ned Breslin, CEO of Water For People

March 27th, 2014 by TOMS

Last week, we introduced our newest One for One® venture. For every bag of TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee purchased, we will provide one week of clean water to a person in need. One for One.® With our Giving Partner, Water For People, each purchase supports long-term solutions, local ownership and the ability to bring safe water to everyone living in the developing communities where they work. We had the opportunity to sit down with Ned Breslin, CEO of Water For People, to learn more about our newest partner; what inspires them, what is so unique about our partnership and the impact of providing safe water to communities in need.

Who is Water For People?
Water For People is a group of people who are passionate about change. We want to ensure that water flows forever for everyone. Our goal is to change the way the sector operates, using Water For People as a model, and focus truly on those long-term outcomes of water flowing forever, and not just as we build each project.

Can you tell us a little bit about the water crisis?
Well, there are two crises. One is that 1.8 billion people around the world don’t have access to safe water, so they have to spend a lot of time fetching water from polluted rivers and streams. The second crisis is that the water sector has invested billions of dollars in water projects around the world that have broken, so they are not sustainable. Lots of girls who are tasked with fetching water for their families are actually walking past broken water points on their way to polluted water sources.

What is the impact of providing clean water to communities in need?
The impact of water on people’s lives is significant. Once water and sanitation are secure to where people can expect it every day — and are free from the burden of collecting water — they can free up their lives to do other things. People can go to school and economies strengthen. That’s when countries actually can start to really develop. I have been doing this for 30 years, I have seen the transformative impact of water on children’s lives, on mothers’ lives, and that really inspires me.

What are you most proud of in Water For People’s model?
I’m most proud of our monitoring systems. It’s not just about putting water and sanitation services in place. You have to look back and see if the investments you made in the past are still working as you expected long into the future. And if not, what are you going to change? How are you going to adapt to get better results in the future? We invest in the pipes and the taps to make the water flow, but more importantly, we invest in the people who will manage the water systems over time.

What is unique about the TOMS x Water For People partnership?
Water For People is so excited about our partnership with TOMS. The One for One® model is really simple, and that is the beauty of it. When you buy a bag of TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee, we will provide one week of clean water to a person in need. The more coffee you enjoy, the more people we can support around the world with safe water.

I love working with our partners, I’m inspired every day. Together, we have enormous ambition. We’re both sensitive to impact and we’re willing to adjust to get better and continue to improve people’s lives.

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