Our goal is to improve rural people's health, our approach for making a sustainable impact is to support village entrepreneurs to develop their own safe water production and distribution services, building on quality, accessibility and self-financing.
6 million Malagasy people living in rural areas do not have access to an improved water source. For every thousand children born in Madagascar, about 120 will die before 5 years of age (WHO/UNICEF). Diarrhoeal diseases are one of the main threats to their health. On the East Coast of the Great Island, water is plentiful but contaminated with various germs and viruses, which gave this area the name of the "diseases region".
In communes where 1001fontaines operates, alternative solutions do not guarantee the quality of the water consumed by villagers. Piped water systems exist in large communes only, and the lack of maintenance often results in poor water quality. Shallow wells are highly contaminated with feces while bad transportation and storage conditions lead to contamination of water from protected wells, drillings or water kiosks. On the other end of the solutions spectrum, bottled water is available only in small bottles (from 0.5 to 2 litres) - the main brand is "Eau Vive" - at the price of 2500 ariarys per litre. With a price of 25 ar. per litre as well as a guaranteed water quality, 1001fontaines offers a very high quality yet accessible service to underserved rural populations.
In 2008 we launched a pilot project in Madagascar, aimed at replicating the approach we developed in Cambodia, with the objective of adjusting it to meet the needs and demand for safe drinking water among rural Malagasy communities. This was done in partnership with an experienced local NGO - Saint Gabriel, which produces latrines. We installed 9 water stations between 2008 and 2012 in the regions of Analanjirofo and Atsinanana. This "Phase 1" of 1001 fontaines' action in Madagascar allowed us to test the relevance of the solution and to tailor it to specific local needs and constraints. During its 4 years of operation , it has received strong support from beneficiary communities, as well as public authorities, to an even greater extent than in Cambodia, probably because of people's high level of awareness of water-related health risks.
Building on the encouraging results of the "Phase 1" - i.e. 10,000 beneficiaries and 14 village-operators running 7 safe water micro-enterprises (the 2 other were launched in 2013 only) - we now wish to deploy the initiative in other communes of the East Coast region. This "Phase 2" represents 2 major challenges: 1/ reach more beneficiaries who will have access to safe drinking water every day and 2/ create the conditions for the whole network of stations to be technically and financially sustainable.
The “Phase 2” programme consists of setting up 18 new water stations in the regions of Analanjirofo and Atsinanana. It will start on January 1st 2014 and we are currently mobilising financial and human resources to support this initiative (50% of the funding has been secured so far). We would be delighted to benefit from the support of the BPN to fund the implementation of one of the 18 stations, and to benefit from the knowledge and expertise from its members through the PWX review process.
Implementing a 1001 fontaines station in a rural commune of Madagascar east coast
to be determined (identification among potential target communes is part of the project), Madagascar
Based on 1001fontaines' experience on past projects, each new water station will serve approximately 2,000 beneficiaries after 18 months of activity, i.e. 2 years after the start of the project which includes 6 months of preparation. This means around 400 families making the choice to dedicate a part of their income to buy safe drinking water from the station on a regular basis (every 2 to 3 days). As typical target communes have 10,000 to 20,000 inhabitants, it accounts for amarket coverage of 10 to 20%.
Our objective is then to increase this number to reach at least 3,000 beneficiaries after 3 to 5 years, through targeted awareness raising and social marketing actions.
The project aims at improving access to safe drinking water. Although awareness campaigns are led throughout the project, improving general knowledge of the importance of drinking safe water and sanitation, it does not contribute directly to increasing the number of people with sanitation.
The implementation of each water station comes with the creation of at least 2 stable and income generating jobs for local villagers (one chief operator and one assistant), who will get trained and supported to develop their activity and improve their economic situation, while receiving recognition from their community for their social role.
At the community level, we estimate that 1,000 people will benefit from awareness raising and community involvement activities in addition to direct beneficiaries, even though they are not (yet?) customers of the station. Through information meetings, group discussions, collective visits to the station, and the opening ceremony, villagers receive health and hygiene messages and are widely consulted and listened to on how they view the service that is proposed to them and the impact it can have on their health and daily life.
At the crossroads between a strong social goal and a pragmatic and sustainable approach, the 1001 fontaines model is based on the following key characteristics:
• Focusing on the most vital need of providing clean drinking water. inspired by the idea that "we drink 90% of our diseases" to quote the French scientist Louis. Pasteur, our project specifically addresses drinking water needs (2 litres a day per person) versus general water needs, which include drinking, cooking and cleaning (50 litres a day per person). We can, therefore, use small and flexible water treatment facilities instead of costly infrastructures.
• Ensuring the quality of the water produced and monitoring it regularly. The quality of our water meets the highest World Health Organisation (WHO) standards and water quality is controlled on a frequent basis by the local teams, which support the village entrepreneurs.
• Guaranteeing accessibility. The price of the water produced is set in agreement with the beneficiary communities and monitored regularly to establish the right balance between affordability for the beneficiaries and the necessity for the entrepreneur to cover operating costs and earn a living. Special attention is also given to the most vulnerable to water-borne diseases, namely children under ten. Through our Sponsorship Programme, we provide clean drinking water free of charge every day to the primary schools in the villages where we have installed a water production centre.
• Ensuring sustainability through a self-financing business model. Once a production site is operational, water sales provide enough revenues to cover all field expenses. These comprise the operators' salaries, as well as a monthly fee to a local technical platform in charge of maintenance and follow up (quality control, supply of spare parts and general assistance). This ensures that each production site is financially self-sufficient and that the overall solution is durable. We have recently launched a training academy in Cambodia to provide on-going training to entrepreneurs and enable us to scale up our deployment. This training programme will also be implemented in Madagascar while adapting to local specificities.
On the technological side, our solution uses and purifies water that is available locally – water from rivers, ponds, wells - following a simple but very effective process including pre-treatment (coagulation, flocculation and settling), filtration through a sand filter followed by microfilters (from 60 to 1 micron) and then disinfection by exposure to ultraviolet (UVc) rays. Distribution is done using 20 litre containers, which are disinfected, closed and sealed, thereby guaranteeing the quality for the end-consumer at the point of consumption.
This model has proved its value for 8 years in Cambodia and 4 years in Madagascar, and although improvements are always necessary we believe it can bring sustainable improvements to the health and quality of life of rural populations. In the coming years, our efforts will particularly be focused on strengthening the entrepeneurial capacities of local operators, which is the most exciting and at the same time challenging part of the project.
The project will follow a 3 step process:
- Selecting and preparing the site in cooperation with the local authorities
- Setting up the station and training the operator - this is when most of the funding is spent
- Following up on the activity
For each site implemented we work closely with the local authorities which play a very important role in Madagascar. The official local partner is the commune chief and the commune council which participates actively in the project by identifying an operator for the station, setting the water selling price (in conjunction with the operator) and contributing to the initiative, generally in kind through providing a plot of land on which to install the water production unit. A contract is also signed between the local implementer (our partner NGO) and the commune in order to increase appropriation, although the ownership of the water purification facilities remains within the hands of the local implementer.
In case a problem occurs during the project (e.g. the necessity to replace the operator) the project team always deals with the commune chief.
Another key player is the chief of the "fokontany", which corresponds to the village or community level (i.e. there are approximately 10 fokontany in each commune). The chief of the fokontany and his/her assistants are the nearest local authority, which is an important social gobetween for the project. We involve them in promoting hygiene behaviors and sponsoring the social marketing initiatives around the project.
More generally, local authorities and beneficiaries are regularly involved in information and consultation meetings by the project team.
Whenever possible, we emphasise building and strengthening relationships with local governments, ensuring the local appropriation of the project, as well as compliance and coherence with national development policies. A cooperation agreement between the Ministry of Water of Madagascar (MoW) and Saint Gabriel NGO (our local partner) was signed and regular meetings take place with the regional representatives of the MoW to monitor the project’s advancement.
In the context of the Millennium Development Goals, the government of Madagascar set the objective of providing access to safe water to 68% of its population, a target still far from being achieved. 1001fontaines wants to contribute to this goal and be part of the objective of the government which is to develop subcontracting with small private operators and reinforce partnerships with the private sector and NGOs (source: Government declaration on the water sector, May 2012). Furthermore, the principle of paying for water has been recognized in the water code, provided that the affordability of the service is guaranteed for poor populations.
In Analanjirofo and Atsinanana regions 1001fontaines has a valuable relationship with the regional governments, who participate in particular in the identification of priority areas of intervention and facilitate contacts with other organizations working in the same region.
We have developed a targeted training programme - the "social entrepreneur academy” - in Cambodia since early 2012, to support the change in scale of our initiative and reinforce the professional capacities of the operators running water stations, giving them an opportunity to become real entrepreneurs serving their community. Now that the initiative in Madagascar is scaling up, it is a good time to transfer experience and expertise from Cambodia, in a domain as crucial as professional training.
The "academy" comprises about 60 modules in various domains such as water treatment, basic hygiene measures, accounting and finance, sales and customer relationship, organization of delivery, team work, self confidence, etc. The different tools and training methodologies developed in Cambodia will be adapted and reworked to meet the specificities of operators' activity in Madagascar and their local environment. We believe this capacity building component is the key to the success of our approach.
Another essential building block to make our action sustainable in Madagascar is the establishment of a local support platform responsible for monitoring and assisting all water stations. According to our approach, the platform - a team of well-trained technicians and community facilitators based in the city of Tamatave - will provide regular assistance to each station for water quality control, maintenance, spare parts supply and training, in exchange for a monthly fee that will contribute to make it self-financed after a few years.
Bearing in mind the difficult situation in Madagascar on a political level since the coup d'état of 2009, and its disastrous economic and social consequences, our wish is to give local communities the opportunity to address one of their most essential needs, in an autonomous and sustainable way.
The maintenance as well as the supply of spare parts and consumables is ensured by the local technical platform funded by the monthly fee paid by each entrepreneur once he/she has reached breakeven. This fee, which corresponds to 20% of turnover, ensures an equitable funding (the most performing sites compensate for those whose activity does not generate sufficient revenue).
The number of stations to be created was calculated according to the local needs and demand while taking account of the objective of financial sustainability of the platform and the network of stations as a whole.
In this social franchise model, ownership of all stations will remain in the hands of the platform, while the exploitation rights and revenues are owned by the entrepreneurs.
In order to follow up on the activity and ensure that it is developing well, the main metrics which are monitored are the volumes of sales and the revenue. This helps calculate the number of beneficiaries. 1000 litres / day is the average volume of sales that allows a station to reach breakeven. Additional volumes correspond to extra revenue for the entrepreneur.
Tracking water sales enables the local platform to calculate the monthly fee and generally follow up on each site’s development. In particular, we regularly analyze the capacity of each entrepreneur to make simple investments (such as buying a new stock of bottles) as well as more forward-looking investments (like purchasing an additional distribution vehicle or hiring one more employee).
These metrics are monitored on a monthly basis by the local platform.
Following up on these metrics helps the platform identify when sites need specific assistance (organizing a group session or door to door operations to recruit new clients for example). It also provides direction for programming training activities.
All the information collected on site is uploaded in a database which features metrics for all the stations. This helps the organization improve its impact by better understanding how the projects develop in the field, which ones perform best, why and how this can be replicated to all sites. Uploading this information is still done manually by the animators but we hope to be able to leverage on mobile technology in the next few years to improve the monitoring of each project.
Treatment units: 3 704
Physical site preparation: 17 800
Personnel costs: 5 281
Logistical costs: 4 425
Management costs: 2 809
Note: The budget for implementing a station is higher in Madagascar than in Cambodia. This is due to different reasons:
- higher material and equipment costs in Madagascar,
- our decision to allocate more human resources in the early stage of the initiative in each country (following project assessment in Cambodia),
- a higher cost of hiring a qualified project manager in Madagascar.
For more information, please refer to the budget attached
No additional existing funding details are currently available.
In kind: plot of land, participating to identifying the local operator