Newsroom | 23 March 2015

Cigna Foundation Taps Water For People as Recipient of World of Difference Grant


Gloria Barone, 215-761-4758

  • 1.8 billion people lack access to safe water
  • 35 percent of the world's population lacks sanitation
  • Half of world's hospital beds filled with people suffering from waterborne disease
  • 3.4 million die annually from water-related disease
  • World Water Day Recognized March 22

BLOOMFIELD, Conn., March 23, 2015 - The Cigna Foundation today announced a $100,000 World of Difference grant to Water For People, a global organization helping to improve health for 1.8 billion people who lack access to safe water, and 2.8 billion people - or 35 percent of the world's population - without access to sanitation. Water For People, headquartered in Denver, supports the development of locally sustainable drinking water resources, sanitation facilities, and hygiene education programs in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi and India.

The Cigna Foundation grant will help Water For People reach four million people in nine countries by 2018. Additionally, Cigna's health and finance experts will help Water for People measure the health impacts of its programs and address financial challenges related to water system replacement and repair.

"With Water For People, the Cigna Foundation is looking to help those around the globe who lack the basic essentials of safe water and sanitation, which are fundamental to good health," said David Figliuzzi, executive director of the Cigna Foundation. "We believe it's inexcusable that half of the world's hospital beds are filled with people suffering from waterborne disease, and 3.4 million people a year are dying from water-related disease. We share Water For People's vision that one day, every family, every school and every clinic will have access to safe water and sanitation."

Water For People's approach, as seen in this video, ensures water system sustainability by requiring a commitment from each beneficiary community. Water For People believes the community must be actively involved in the planning, implementation and maintenance of its water system. Water For People does not send engineers and volunteer laborers into a community to build systems. Instead, local community members are trained to build and maintain systems, and collect tariffs for on-going operations. Water For People uses only locally available materials should repairs be needed, ensuring that community members have the ability to maintain their own water and sanitation systems.

"Cigna's support will enable our projects to impact entire districts. Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation can change the local economy as people are able to work and build businesses. Children are less likely to be ill and can attend school. Women are free from tedious water collection and can take care of their families and generate income. Local entrepreneurs are able to create businesses and services related to this new community asset," explained Kristin Sturges Hood, assistant director, marketing and partnerships, Water For People.

With World Water Day recognized in March, Cigna urges everyone to think about the world's water supply. For its part, Cigna recently set environmental reduction goals that include a three percent water reduction target by 2017. More information on Cigna's water conservation efforts can be found here in the company's annual corporate responsibility report.

About the Cigna Foundation

The Cigna Foundation, founded in 1962, is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work. The Cigna Foundation World of Difference grants provide support for improving children's wellness, senior care, women's health and health equity - the four social priorities for Cigna's corporate responsibility platform known as Cigna Connects.

About Cigna

Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has more than 85 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit

About Water For People

Water For People brings together local entrepreneurs, civil society, governments, and communities to establish creative, collaborative solutions that allow people to build and maintain their own reliable safe water systems. Empowering everyone transforms people's lives by improving health and economic productivity to end the cycle of poverty

The road to permanent water coverage for Everyone Forever is challenging, but the outcomes are easy to root for - more children are in school, more individuals are employed, more families are healthy and thriving, and more communities are collaborating and growing. From there, the impact continues to ripple out on a national and global scale. If we invest more and work hard to create sustainable and replicable water and sanitation infrastructure, we can create a world where people can focus on their futures…their forever.