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Member Profile January 2017



Nursery school students in the village of Chandaka, Malawi, wash their hands with clean water before eating breakfast together. WaterAid helped this hillside community of 160 people drill a borehole in 2016.

This month, CCIC met with Nicole Hurtubise, Chief Executive Officer at WaterAid Canada, to discuss expectations after the International Assistance Review, key programs in 2017, innovation and many other things!

CCIC - WaterAid Canada actively participated in the 2016 International Assistance Review (IAR). Now that the consultation is complete, what is your hope and vision for a new Government of Canada International Assistance Policy? 

Nicole Hurtubise - Some 663 million people around the world are still without a clean source of drinking water, and 2.4 billion do not have access to basic toilets. The resulting illnesses kill nearly 900 children a day. The lost productivity costs many developing countries as much as 5 per cent of GDP each year – that is equal to the decline in many developed nations’ GDPs at the height of the 2008 economic crisis.

Mr. Trudeau has said that things can happen when we collaborate in pursuit of a larger goal. There are few things more essential to human survival than water. Without access to clean water, the world’s poorest people will stay poor. The evidence clearly shows that sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene are essential if we are to empower the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations and help them reach their potential.

Global Goal 6 commits the global community to ensuring everyone, everywhere has access to water and sanitation by 2030. At a time when the world faces so many crises, these goals represent a real chance at creating a fairer, healthier, more sustainable world for the next generation. Nearly every single goal – ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, reducing inequality – comes back to water. By building on Canada’s leadership in maternal newborn and child health and the rights of women and girls, Canada is in a position to lead by example and champion the human right to water, sanitation and hygiene at home and abroad.


CCIC - Given that we are one month into the New Year, what are you most looking forward to in 2017 for WaterAid Canada?

Nicole Hurtubise - Having access to water and toilets is transformative.  It opens doors to education, health, nutrition and to a better livelihood. Access to water and toilets offers women and girls so many more opportunities to contribute their fullest to their communities. 

The good news is that for the first time in history, access to clean water for everyone everywhere is within our reach. Nine out of ten people now have access to safe, clean water to drink, cook, and clean with and more than six in ten of the world’s population now have access to a decent toilet. Every year, 78 million people turn on a tap or using a pump, and 69 million close the toilet door behind them for the very first time. As we begin 2017, we know we can change history one gesture at a time, and our goal of reaching everyone everywhere with clean water and a safe decent toilet is well within reach. I’m looking forward to working to continuing this incredible progress.


CCIC - Innovation has always been a key priority for international development and humanitarian assistance CSOs. We also saw innovation included as a key pillar for the IAR. Please tell us about one of WaterAid Canada's innovative programs or partnerships.

Nicole Hurtubise - Innovation – 'being creative and agile, always learning, and prepared to take risks to accelerate change' – is one of our core values and central to our Global Strategy. For example, we have a Water Innovators program at WaterAid. This employee development challenge gives businesses the opportunity to help WaterAid solve real problems. We provide participants with three challenges based on real water, sanitation and hygiene-promotion problems faced by the WaterAid team in Nicaragua where 800,000 people don’t have access to clean, safe water, and two million live without access to a decent toilet. Participants set personal learning objectives, work on an innovative solution that could be put into practise in our work in Nicaragua and share reflections as a team at the end of the process. This is just one way we are trying to implement opportunities that help to accelerate change.



CCIC - You estimate that without safe access to water and sanitation 315,000 children die every year. What would you like Canadians to know about this crisis? And what can be done about it?

Nicole Hurtubise - In developing countries, each child has an average of ten attacks of diarrhea before the age of five. This is directly linked to a lack of safe water, adequate sanitation and good hygiene practices. It is linked with many other health problems too, including undernutrition, pneumonia, and parasites. At WaterAid, we aim to prioritize water, sanitation and hygiene in international and national health goals, policies and strategies, and to embed water, sanitation and hygiene projects in relevant health programs and interventions. Public health depends on safe water, sanitation and good hygiene. Without them, deadly outbreaks of preventable illnesses will continue, and the impact of infectious diseases will worsen around the world.

We want to reach everyone everywhere with clean, safe water. This means we consider the needs of children as well as adults when improving safe water and sanitation services. We make sure water points and toilets are accessible to children and improve facilities in schools so that they can continue learning. Children are quick to learn and can be effective ambassadors for good hygiene within their families and communities. We promote good hygiene through child-friendly activities such as puppet shows and plays, games and songs, and we help set up school hygiene clubs.


CCIC - WaterAid Canada is a relatively new CCIC member. Why did you make that decision to join CCIC?

Nicole Hurtubise - WaterAid Canada is a firm believer in CCIC’S mission to work globally to achieve sustainable human development, end global poverty and promote social justice and human dignity for all. We believe that, by being an active member, we can both contribute to strengthening CCIC as the voice of Canadian civil society organizations working in international development and elevate our own voice. We believe that water, sanitation and hygiene are and vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Membership in CCIC gives WaterAid the opportunity to work with likeminded organizations to promote and strengthen the integration of water, sanitation and hygiene in international development programming.



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