What does sustainability look like at Water4?

This is a guest post from Richard Moore, Water4 Director of Programs.

When I joined the team in 2015 Water4’s strategy as we know it today was just starting to materialize… and man has it materialized since then!

Over the past four years, I’ve seen over 700,000 people gain access to safe water through enterprise-based solutions through nearly 2,500 water projects. Extraordinary is an understatement

I’m obviously biased, but I think I have the most exciting job at Water4. As Director of Programs, I work closely with our enterprise partners in Africa and South America. I get to talk with them on a daily basis, helping them work through business challenges, troubleshoot equipment breakdowns, negotiate contracts and more. Over the past four years, these daily conversations have evolved in nature, from being mostly technical support (choosing the right drill bit for a given soil profile, proper borehole construction techniques, etc.) to a business mentoring relationship. It’s been a wild ride walking alongside our partners as they move toward sustainably addressing the water crisis in their communities using enterprise based solutions.

One of those enterprises is Water Access, our enterprise partner in Malawi, who Water4 began partnering with about three years ago. Before then, they were almost entirely dependent on outside support. They were doing good work providing communities with free wells, but there was no plan to make them last. Since then, I’ve had the joy of working alongside them, and have been so pumped watching the amazing growth they’ve experienced.

WaterAccessMalawi

In November, they asked me to introduce them to our pump supplier in India so they could “buy a container of pumps and casings for 50 water wells.” I didn’t think twice… I logged into my email, made the introduction, and checked to make sure the contract terms were fair. Later that day it hit me… one of our partners just ordered over $20,000 of their own money in materials to restock their inventory for 2019 operations.

Even better, they were able to purchase these supplies through profits generated by their enterprise in 2018. Even more astounding… they weren’t the first partner to make a similar request last year! It’s actually becoming pretty normal for our partners. Because of generated profits, they’re able to order container loads of equipment while investing in their operations to better serve the communities where they’re working.

Drilling water wells and installing pumps is only part of the solution. Water4 and our partners like Water Access in Malawi recognize hand pumps alone are not sustainable; they require routine inspections, testing, maintenance, and repairs in order to truly be a lasting solution for the communities we serve. That’s why our partners are invested in creating service plans where pumps get routine maintenance at the community and district levels to ensure wells are sustainable for the long-term.

At Water4, we’re reimagining the way we look at the water crisis and inspiring others to do the same. Will you join us?

Richard Moore
Director of Programs
Water4