Meet the staff: Nat Paynter, Director of Water Programs

Meet Nat!

Nat spent nine years at the World Bank, with three years of field experience in Tanzania. There, he oversaw a water, sanitation and hygiene program. He’s brand new to the charity: water team as of last week. We pulled him out of his consecutive meetings and phone calls (this guy jumps right in!) to pick his brain about two areas of his expertise in the water sector: money and sanitation.

Nat on economics:

People in developing countries around the world can spend hours each day collecting drinking water (often from sources that can make them sick). In Africa alone, this adds up to about 40 billion hours per year. We asked Nat to break this down into a sort of Water Crisis Economics 101:

“So — time is money. If you’re saving time, you’re saving money. Water is just core to every activity in a community. The importance of bringing water supply there is to save time, typically for women and children. Then you can save four to six hours a day — when you think about it, that’s a 50% raise or even a 100% raise, if they use that time to earn income.”


In Central Tanzania, Nat worked in a Masai community called Twatwatwa (isn’t that the best name for a town?). When he got there, the village was walking eight miles away to collect water from a crocodile-infested river.

“So the World Bank put in a water system there… and you could just see the community growing as a result. You’d see where the initial settlement was; then there was a school and a clinic built. And then shops were just sprouting up. You could see this economy growing, translating the time saved into economic activity. It was very heartening.”

Quick facts:


The overall economic loss in Africa alone due to lack of access to safe water and basic sanitation is estimated at $28.4 billion a year, or around 5% of GDP. (UN World Water Assessment Programme)


Every $1 invested in improved water access and sanitation yields an average of $12 in economic returns, depending on the project. (WHO)


Almost 2/3 of people lacking access to safe drinking water are living on less than $2 a day. One in three lives on less than $1 a day. (UN World Water Assessment Programme)

Nat on sanitation:

charity: water has invested in sanitation (toilets) across most of the countries we work. The water crisis is our main focus — to most people, that means just providing clean drinking water projects. But when water, sanitation and hygiene practices are all used together, we can drastically reduce deadly diseases.


Nat spent three years leading a handwashing and sanitation campaign in Tanzania to prevent and reduce water-related deaths. While charity: water has already been funding sanitation and hygiene programs, Nat’s excited to invest even more in the innovative sanitation solutions and help us tell the sanitation story along with the water story.

It turns out, toilets don’t have to be awkward or boring to talk about. We’ve had our eyes on some new sanitation solutions and they’re actually pretty exciting stuff. Especially the ones that involve an economic benefit.

“The way the sanitation sector is moving is in behavior change, public-private partnerships and developing markets for sanitation and hygiene,” says Nat. In other words, making sanitation a local business or incentive-driven practice.

For example, our partners Water For People are using “sanitation as a business.” Read more about that here > We’ll see what else this year brings in sanitation solutions and keep you updated on new programs here on the blog.

Welcome, Nat. We’re excited to have you on board. Now, if we can just get you on Twitter…

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