top of page

Beyond the silver screen: How Matt Damon is changing the world, drop by drop


In an industry often associated with glitz, glamour, and red carpets, actor Matt Damon has transcended the traditional boundaries of Hollywood stardom to become a formidable force in the realm of global water conservation and access. Beyond the silver screen, Damon's unwavering commitment to tackling one of the world's most pressing challenges — water scarcity — has propelled him into the role of a real-life hero.  With a passion that matches his talent, Damon has harnessed his fame and influence to spearhead initiatives, raise awareness, and drive tangible change in communities around the globe.


He insists “You cannot solve poverty without solving water and sanitation.”


Two billion people without access to safe drinking water


When I had the privilege of meeting Matt Damon at the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative, I was struck not only by his passionate advocacy but also by his remarkable approachability. Despite his A-list star status, he carried himself with an air of genuine authenticity that made it easy to forget his celebrity stature. He consistently redirected attention away from himself and towards the issue of water.


In a recent United Nations World Water Development Report released March 2023, roughly two billion individuals globally lack access to clean and secure drinking water, while about 3.6 billion people, constituting 46 percent of the world’s population, do not have sufficient sanitation services.

 

The author and Matt Damon


Although water is a fundamental necessity, a significant portion of the global population, numbering in the billions, remains without reliable access to clean and safe drinking water.

About 297,000 children under five die every year from diarrhea — a very preventable disease — because of poor sanitation, poor hygiene, or unsafe drinking water. 


Even more concerning is the fact that over time, there has been a decrease in commitments towards water, and the financial resources allocated to achieve UN SDG Goal 6 are inadequate to address the needs of countries, as reported by the United Nations. Data gathered by UN from 20 developing nations and territories reveal a substantial 61 percent shortfall between the identified requirements to reach national targets for water, sanitation, and hygiene, and the actual funding available.


Solving the water crisis through financing


Recognizing that the lack of access to funds is a significant barrier for millions of individuals seeking safe water, Water.org — a global nonprofit organization founded by Matt with Gary White at the sidelines of CGI in 2008 — devised a transformative approach.


The WaterCredit Initiative works in collaboration with local financial partners in the respective countries, facilitating the provision of affordable loans to those in need of water access and sanitation facilities. What sets this initiative apart is its sustainable and self-perpetuating nature. When borrowers repay their loans, the funds are then recycled to support another family or community, creating a pay-it-forward cycle that maximizes the impact of every dollar invested. This innovative model not only empowers individuals to uplift themselves from water poverty but also amplifies the ripple effect, enabling more people to break free from the cycle of water scarcity and transform their lives.


Matt Damon proudly highlights the remarkable progress achieved through the WaterCredit Initiative. From reaching one million beneficiaries in 2012, just three years after the establishment of Water.org, the organization has since accelerated its impact exponentially. 


Today, Water.org is reaching a staggering one million people every six weeks through the power of water credit. This astounding growth is a testament to the effectiveness and scalability of the initiative. By leveraging the concept of microfinance and the pay-it-forward principle, Water.org is revolutionizing the field of water financing, not only expanding access but also creating a sustainable mechanism for long-term transformation. Through the WaterCredit Initiative, Damon and Water.org are proving that financial innovation combined with a deep social mission can be a powerful force in eradicating the water crisis and empowering communities worldwide.


Changing lives through water


For Matt Damon — addressing the global water and sanitation crisis is intrinsically linked to alleviating poverty. Access to clean water and proper sanitation facilities plays a pivotal role in breaking the cycle of poverty and creating pathways to prosperity.


His personal interactions with the communities — particularly women and girls who bear the burden of water collection, have provided him with understanding of how access to water affect lives.


When individuals, particularly women and girls, no longer have to spend hours each day fetching water from distant sources, they can redirect their time and energy towards education, income-generating activities, and personal development. Improved water and sanitation also contribute to better health outcomes, reducing the incidence of waterborne diseases and preventing the spread of infections. This, in turn, leads to decreased healthcare expenses and increased productivity within communities. Moreover, access to clean water fosters agricultural development, enabling farmers to irrigate their crops and improve food security. 


Solving the water crisis is possible within our lifetime. We just need to mobilize and channel resources to the right sectors and communities.


As for Matt, he is changing the world, drop by drop, and cementing his legacy as an advocate for a more sustainable and equitable future.

Recent Posts

See All

Embracing the metaverse

Originally published in Manila Bulletin American author Neal Stephenson is credited for coining the term “metaverse” that he used in his 1992 book, Snow Crash, to describe a virtual world where people

Comentarios


bottom of page