In response to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the Community Water Initiative (CWI) was launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2004 in seven countries (Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Mauritania, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Uganda), and was recently expanded to three new countries (Mali, Niger and Senegal).
CWI supports decentralized, demand-driven, innovative, low-cost, and community-based water resource management and water supply and sanitation projects in rural areas. It is rooted in the strong belief that local management and community initiatives play a key role in ensuring and sustaining the success of enhancing water supply and sanitation services to poor communities. CWI channels funds directly to local communities in need of support.
CWI has adopted a distinctive perspective that considers environmental sustainability of the water supply activities it supports. CWI aims to support poor and marginalized populations to acquire one of the most basic human needs: water supply and sanitation. It not only benefits women and children whose lives and health are impacted most adversely by the lack of accessible clean water and sanitation and the burden of fetching water over long distances. It also highlights women's knowledge and responsibilities as managers of water at the household level and their potential roles in community water committees.
CWI focuses on building local community capacity for developing, maintaining and expanding new systems to ensure sustainability of the benefits. It mobilizes local leadership and participation of community women in local water management institutions as well as training local people in maintenance and repair. Management committees or groups have been established and continue managing water systems beyond the completion of the projects, instituting user fee arrangements, as appropriate, to ensure financing for management, maintenance and repair.