Behind The Scenes: Resilient Water Systems

We’re obsessed with sustainability.

In part, it’s an (over) reaction to our sector, which has a poor track record in this area. A 2012 audit of European Union investments into water and sanitation projects in sub-Saharan Africa showed that half of their $1 billion dollars worth of their investments had failed to have an impact, largely because they were not managed well over the long term. Yikes. This is just one of many examples that show we have a long way to go to improve.

From our perspective, there are four key reasons behind what makes or breaks the sustainability of the project:

[1] It requires a simple, durable, and affordable solution that is contextual to the environment.

[2] It requires a holistic implementation strategy, designed from a hygiene and sanitation perspective around the needs of the beneficiaries and stakeholders. All stakeholders are engaged during the implementation of this project to the maximum extent.

[3] It requires an exit strategy that looks at gradually diminishing the charity’s support while increasing the support of the other stakeholders.

[4] It requires some form of post-exit plan to ensure the initial capital infrastructure doesn’t disintegrate and the community behaviour change stays solidified even beyond the exit strategy.

Thirty years ago, we were just fortunate enough to choose a technology that still to this day happens to be one of the most sustainable, durable, and affordable ways to deliver water across a long range of people: The Gravity Flow System.

Stages of Clean Water Supply in Uganda

Some of the materials we use have changed, but the core engineering of them is relatively the same. This decision has been a Godsend as truth be told, we haven’t done all we should have to be a sustainable water charity, but we’ve been “saved” in part because of the resilient technology. 

2022 marks a major milestone. It will be the first holistic retrofit we do in our 30 years of clean water projects. Part of this SweeterWater Campaign is going back to Nyakigyera, and conducting an upgrade on their 16-year-old system. The local district government will be paying for this portion of the project, while our team will conduct all of the hygiene and sanitation training that is crucial for improving the health of the region. We’ll also be working with the schools to teach this next generation of kids the foundation of health and hygiene while building latrines to keep them safe at school. 

Once we’re done this, we can start on the Masha Project – which is right near this community but reaches a brand new village of 10,000 people!

17 years ago donors gave about $300,000 to make this project happen. It has since provided water for tens of thousands of people in Uganda! By conducting our first resilient systems project in partnership with the local government, we’re able to extend the lifespan of this system for decades to come and help transform an industry that is in need of a better way to give clean water.

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