METRO Water Initiative: More than just a Drop of Hope

METRO is cooperating with the international One Drop Foundation to create access to clean water and sanitation facilities in India. Marie-Claude Bourgie of One Drop talks about project goals and how creativity and the power of art can make a lasting difference to the world.

One Drop Grafik

One Drop Grafik

One Drop was founded more than 10 years ago by Cirque du Soleil-founder Guy Laliberté: What was the reason for it?

His dream was to make the world a better place; a place where everyone would have access to decent living conditions. While traveling, he quickly realized that water was not only the symbol of life, but the most powerful single way to foster health and development worldwide. Guy often mentions how life was generous to him and how privileged he feels to have been able to turn his passion into a successful enterprise. This gratitude, coupled with the deep desire to find a way to give-back, are the reasons he founded One Drop.


What is the incentive for all these projects today?

It is the vision of a better world where everyone has access to living conditions that allow empowerment and development is what drives all of our projects and actions. Day after day, drop after drop, we are accomplishing our founder’s dream, by ensuring sustainable access to water and sanitation for the world’s most vulnerable communities. We’re showing how innovative partnerships, creativity, and the power of art can change the world in a sustainable way. Currently, 2.1 billion people still don’t have access to safe water at home. So there’s clearly still a huge amount of work to be done. But together with our partners, we’re taking huge steps in the right direction. In fact, since 2007, we’ve financed 21 international development projects in the water sector.

The United Nations clearly established the critical need to “ensure access to safe water and sanitation for all by 2030” as part of its Sustainable Development Goals. To meet this colossal challenge, organisations, corporations, and governments need to work together and pool their knowledge and financial resources to create truly impactful and sustainable initiatives.

In order to ensure that our water infrastructures are sustainable, we have to work on positively changing the behaviours of the people who use them.

Marie-Claude Bourgie

Why has One Drop integrated the “Social Art for Behaviour Change” approach in its work in the field?

For One Drop, providing access to safe water is only the first step. Another, however, is the adoption of healthy behaviour with regard to water, sanitation and hygiene. This includes washing hands with soap or the proper maintenance of toilets. Influenced by the innovative and creative DNA of the Cirque du Soleil, we have developed a unique approach, Social Art for Behaviour Change. A method in which through art we connect with people on an emotional level while conveying messages about the importance of healthy behaviors in relation to water, sanitation and hygiene.

Instead of intruding on communities with moralizing directives about what to do and what not to do, we use locally inspired art forms as a way to reach them. Whether these artistic creations take the form of theatrical performances, mosaic murals, or music concerts, water-related issues are imbedded in the messages. The activities are always created with local artists and based on the local culture and dialects. The Social Art for Behaviour Change approach is both scientific and artistic, and ultimately aims at fostering the adoption of healthy behaviours around water, sanitation, and hygiene. It’s what makes our projects unique and—most importantly—sustainable. The science is clear; in order to ensure that our water infrastructures are sustainable, we have to work on positively changing the behaviours of the people who use them.

Why is the collaboration with METRO important for One Drop?

When METRO first approached us, we were impressed by their desire to make a positive impact, and by their commitment to the critical cause of safe water. We’re honoured to take part in the METRO Water Initiative, which draws the attention of 24 million customers and more than 150,000 employees worldwide to this vitally important cause.

At One Drop, we have two big objectives when it comes to building an innovative partnership. First, we want to bring financial partners together so we can multiply the effect of every dollar we raise, to create impact at scale and second, we strive to raise awareness around the global cause of water to as wide of an audience as possible.

Our partnership with Metro through the METRO Water Initiative, held in 22 countries, generates incalculable visibility, which benefits the cause of water immeasurably. This kind of outreach is valuable to us at One Drop, and ultimately to all the communities we work with.

I started by saying that organisations, corporations, and governments needed to work together and pool our knowledge and financial resources to create truly impactful and sustainable initiatives. Well, the METRO Water Initiative does exactly that, and even more. It’s a perfect example of how organisations can join forces to do good and change lives for the better.


Marie-Claude Bourgie, Chief Development Officer One Drop Foundation

About ... Marie-Claude Bourgie

Marie-Claude Bourgie has been active in international development for more than fifteen years. Before joining One Drop, she worked with Global Consult and EcoRessources, consulting governments and the private sector on international climate-change policies and financing models. Marie-Claude joined One Drop in 2014 as Director of Operations, overseeing the International Programs in Latin America, West Africa, and India. She was named Chief Development Officer in 2017, and is now responsible for One Drop’s overall fundraising and partnership strategy.

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