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BBC Future

60 Second Idea

Smart card ensures water for all

Each week a global thinker from the worlds of philosophy, science, psychology or the arts is given a minute to put forward a radical, inspiring or controversial idea – no matter how improbable – that they believe would change the world.

This week, Usha Rao-Monari , head of global water for the International Finance Corporation, suggests giving every person in the world a smart card that allows them to buy water.

“Similar to a prepaid telephone card, the card would allow everyone access to water. The price for such access would depend on how much the individual uses it – it would be free for a minimum volume and priced above that.

The important thing about this system is that it ensures access for all and sets a price depending on volume used, regardless of whether water is supplied by the municipality or a water vendor.

The system would particularly benefit the poor because they have equal access and, because they don’t have a steady cash flow, the card would actually allow them to buy water when they have money in hand. An important condition would be that the card is issued to the woman in the household because I believe that women would tend to be far more responsible in how they use that card.”

You can listen to Rao-Monari  discuss her idea in more detail on the BBC World Service programme The Forum, where you can also download more sixty second ideas.

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