25 Nov 2008

Which Projects Would You Fund?

Yesterday, I posted Paul Faeth's thoughts of how to address problems of providing water to the poor.

His organization (Global Water Challenge, GWC), collaborating with Ashoka’s Changemakers, put out an RFP for projects that would "catalyze local entrepreneurs to create a worldwide movement to end the water and sanitation crisis" in January 2008. They received 265 entries from 54 countries, and these are the ones they have funded or are considering funding.

What they need from you is comments/opinions on which are better than others. So here they are, in reverse alpha (guess why?), for your consideration.

Please comment on these projects by number.

Please vote [poll on the right sidebar!] for as many as you think worthy of GWC's funding.
  1. Swayam Shikshan Prayog (India)

    Small Steps, Big Leaps: Community Led Approach to Water and Sanitation
    SSP mobilizes and empowers communities to demand, implement and maintain water and sanitation related projects by utilizing existing government resources to maximize their impact. SSP builds local capacities, especially those of women, in planning, designing, managing and maintaining water and sanitation services. The strategy spearheaded by womens’ groups in partnership with their local governments is directly operating in 200 villages in Maharashtra, and 67 villages in Gujarat. SSP will first expand this model to all of the 1,064 villages in three states (Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu) in which it currently operates other programs.

  2. Safe Water and AIDS Project (Kenya)

    Safe Water and AIDS project provides people living with HIV and HIV support groups training on safe water systems interventions. Field officers and trainers identify HIV support groups, promote and demonstrate safe water treatment, and discuss illness prevention through the use of health products. The groups buy these products at wholesale prices and sell them at retail to earn a profit. Groups are also offered microfinance services for savings and loans, so that they can expand their businesses. The project has served 100,000 people through 450 groups that sell safe water treatment products from door to door, in community gatherings and in community kiosks and pharmacies.

  3. Naandi Foundation (India)

    Community-based Safe Drinking Water Systems
    Naandi Foundation provides safe drinking water to underserved populations in the Andhra Pradesh and Punjab states of India. Naandi recognizes that demand for quality water and sanitation services exists and that by capitalizing on communities’ willingness to pay, accountability can be enforced through a contractual relationship between service providers and the community. The community’s contribution increases ownership and improves accountability of services. Naandi operates 150 kiosks, with 200 more under construction. When all 350 kiosks are completed, the program will reach 1.75 million people.

  4. Manna Energy Foundation (Rwanda)

    Developing Another World in Rural Rwanda
    Manna Energy Foundation is installing close to 500 water treatment systems and biogas generators for secondary schools in Rwanda by funding the venture with carbon credits. The project will reach a population of 236,000 students or 3% of the Rwandan population. The water treatment plants will use gravity and photovoltaic filtration systems. They will provide safe water for drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene. The biogas generators will take human and kitchen waste and capture the waste methane which can be used in high efficiency cook stoves.

  5. Iringa Development of Youth, Disabled and Children Care (Tanzania)

    Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for All
    IDYDC uses sports to disseminate hygiene and sanitation information, and provides water and sanitation solutions and microcredit to the community. IDYDC has about 700 football/netball teams in the region. Children and young people involved with IDYDC act as behavior change agents in their families. 400,000 to 500,000 community people have been reached with messages about HIV/AIDS, drug, substance and alcohol abuse. At least the same number of people will be reached with hygiene and sanitation messages.

  6. Himanshu Parikh Consulting Engineers (India)

    Slum Networking – Transcending Poverty with Innovative Water and Sanitation Paradigm
    HPCE is an engineering firm that uses city planning methods to design new sewage and drainage systems for slum revitalization programs. HPCE creates a new network of drains, decreasing the cost of underground sewers by making use of the natural drainage slope of the area. Working with its NGO partner Byrraju Foundation, the goal is to scale up their work to over 200 villages.

  7. Ecotact - Innovating Sanitation (Kenya)

    Iko-Toilet Thinking Beyond a Toilet
    Ecotact is implementing an innovative model for installing and operating pay-for-use toilets in urban areas of Kenya. The facilities leverage recent innovations in environmental sanitation. Waterless urinals reduce water consumption, urine is segregated and sold as fertilizer, and some facilities will use human waste to generate methane gas, reducing sewage disposal and diminishing the threat to water bodies. Each toilet offers additional services, tailored to meet the needs of the local community: a small business, showers, an ATM. The toilets diverse array of funding sources, includes user fees, advertising revenues, and the leasing of a small space to micro-entrepreneurs.

  8. EcoLogic Development Fund (Honduras)

    Tapping Multi-Sector Finance to Increase Water Flows to Rural Poor
    EcoLogic works with rural and municipal leaders in Honduras to undertake micro-watershed management and construct potable water systems using credit. Communities invest in their own sustainable land use and income generating activities, enabling them to pay for water services. Water Boards in Honduras and Guatemala, organized and supported by EcoLogic, manage up to $50,000 annually and serve over 117 communities, providing potable water to 26,000 people. EcoLogic plans to reach at least 100 new communities per year throughout the region.

  9. Clean Shop (South Africa)

    Schools Sanitation Improvement and Enhancement Project
    Clean Shop employs 350 people and conducts daily cleaning and hygiene services for schools, universities, mines, supermarkets, and gas stations. In partnership with the University of Venda, Clean Shop educates parents with children in public schools to clean and operate local school latrines. It is poised to operate in many more schools in partnership with the South African government.

  10. Centre for Community Organization and Development (Malawi)

    Women Entrepreneurs in Sanitation
    CCODE empowers women in poor urban communities by providing them the support to introduce eco-sanitation facilities in central markets. Women collect fees for toilet use and also separate and recycle waste for income. Markets are central places for most communities and thus provide visibility to ecosan. This creates demand at the household level for household ecosan toilets. CCODE plans to provide support for local entrepreneurs offering these services. This particular project is expected to serve at least 5,000 households directly and over 25,000 households indirectly.

  11. Bushproof (Madagascar)

    Leasing Hand Pumps: Opening New Markets for Affordable Drinking Water
    Bushproof offers hand pump leasing and maintenance services to make community drinking water financially sustainable and affordable. This agreement allows bushproof to take full responsibility for the provision of sufficient quantities of safe water supplied by wells and pumps. Through their pilot program in Madagascar, Bushproof has served 13,500 people and plans on serving thousands more by scaling the number of leased wells in subsequent years.

  12. Biodiversity Conservation India Limited (India)

    Mainstreaming Sustainability
    BCIL seeks to build a housing community of 100 homes with zero dependence on local Municipal Water Supply and Sewage Boards. In addition, the housing community will have energy efficient lighting systems and appliances, including carbon free air-conditioning for every house. Through this housing community, BCIL will demonstrate sustainable urban development without compromising urban comfort. As of this year, BCIL has overseen 180 acres of chemical free land and has built about 500 houses that are fully autonomous in waste disposal and supply of drinking water. In the next two years, BCIL will build 800 more affordable and sustainable housing units.


  1. A few years ago PBS ran a documentary on a group of engineers' project "Play Pumps" in small South African villages without water or electricity. (www.playpumps.org) It looked like a merry-go-round, but actually pumped water for the whole village by filling the water tower for the day while the kids played on it for a half hour before and after school. The engineers drilled a deep well to replace a shallow, polluted well the village had used and this simple system eradicated the chronic diarrhea plaguing the villagers. My feeling is that big western style infrastructure is dependent on power, and small, creative projects like this could bring sanitation and clean water to the third world. Just getting public toilets in Indian cities would be a huge leap forward.

  2. I don't have a specific favorite, but I'd avoid (a) any that require government involvement, (b) any that don't have strong community involvement, and (c) any that just involve buying something and handing it off.

    From my perspective, an ideal NGO project has stakeholders in the local community (which may include the local government, but government involvement and/or money must not be necessary to the project) and is sustainable after NGO involvement ceases. One of my favorites was the one in Latin America that taught people how to drill wells (I think I read about it here?), improving local water supply while simultaneously providing livelihoods.


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