Academy Award Winner Matt Damon’s Water Org at CGI-2014

Actor Matt Damon sprinkled in some humor with talk of the global water crisis, channeling “Bubba” in his panel discussion at Clinton Global Initiative.

In good humor, Damon impersonated former President Clinton at the annual meeting aimed at tackling worldwide crises Tuesday in New York, pointing out that water solutions could be aiding more people.

Damon also pointed to the fact that moved him to become a clean water advocate: Every 21 seconds, a child under 5 dies because of a preventable water related disease.

Damon, together with fellow Water.org co-founder Gary White, explained how a lack of potable water and sanitation leads to fatal illnesses, but is also just as much of a women’s issue, since women and girls are often assaulted while relieving themselves in public.

And while the pair agrees that there will never be “enough charity” to solve the water crisis, they remain optimistic about their progress, pointing specifically to the critical role microloans play.

To make toilets and clean water more accessible, Water.org –- which White and Damon co-founded in 2009 — developed WaterCredit. It’s the first program of its kind to use microfinance tools enable struggling communities to address the global water crisis.

The program connects financial institutions with communities in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Uganda, Peru and Kenya so that individuals and households can get the loans they need to fund water connections and building toilets. As the loans are repaid, they can be redeployed to other people in need, reducing the need for subsidies.

“We solved this here in the West 100 years ago,” Damon said. “Just imagine if we solved AIDS tomorrow or cancer, and in 100 years, children were still dying by the millions — it’s really unconscionable.

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