El Salvador faces chronic water shortages resulting from delayed and insufficient investment in infrastructure. One-third of the population is dependent on external water delivery, and an estimated two-thirds of the country’s water systems need major capital investment to ensure reliable access to clean drinking water.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges, with stay-at-home orders making it harder to travel to a source of clean water, even as hand washing and sanitation became more critical.

Solution and Impact

Financing to Azure Source Capital, a special lending vehicle, is supporting loans to small cities and rural communities for investment in new and rehabilitated water pumps, pipelines, and storage tanks. Azure aims to improve water supply for 300,000 people, and is combining financial support with training so local residents can operate their own water systems.

Additional emergency projects Azure adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have provided support to help restore water service to about 10,000 families and 11 community and municipal water service providers.

Because the task of collecting clean water often falls to women and can become a time-consuming chore, the project advances DFC’s 2X Women’s Initiative to economically empower women.

Catholic Relief Services and impact investor Total Impact Capital are also sponsors in the project.