Market Approach for Sustainable Water Supply

Our highly successful pilot programme supported by UNICEF and DFID has been using a market-led small business solution to solve rural water poverty.

Our self-supply pilot initiative has researched, trialed and tested a range of models of self-supply. We have spent the past two years designing the programme and training and mentoring local artisans to equip them with the skills they need to set up viable businesses to build sustainable water capacity in their communities.

While many initiatives led by governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have done a great deal to improve rural water supply in Africa, many pumps end up abandoned when they break down when a simple fix could put a pump back into operation.

As many as 30% of pump-operated water points may not be functioning according to some estimates, putting entire communities at risk of highly preventable diseases.

Establishing local supply businesses has helped make water pumps in rural areas more sustainable, as well as creating more social and economic opportunities for the entrepreneurs, involved in our programme, and their wider communities. This entrepreneurial approach has trained local trades people, such as welders and metal workers to build, repair and maintain water pumps.

Pump Aid works with rural and often remote communities that have few opportunities and resources to access spare parts or to hire a skilled professional who is willing to travel incredible distances to make a repair. As a result, when a water point falls into disrepair, communities are forced to return to open water sources vulnerable to contamination.

Our  approach was recognised in 2012 with The Pan-African Award for Entrepreneurship in Education from Teach a Man to Fish and the Saville Foundation.

Through DFID’s Challenge Fund, we have spent the past two years working with UNICEF to trial small business solutions for ending rural water poverty. The entrepreneurs are taking a range of approaches but they are very much working. Sales are growing and some have orders for the coming six months. The Executive Summary for the report on the success of the programme will be published in August 2016.

You can read about Juliana’s self-supply purchase and how it is improving health and productivity for her 200 workers here.

You can read the Self-Supply Project Summary and Results paper which was recently circulated at a visit by Directors from the Malawian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Agriculture.

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