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Published on: 25/11/2011

In 2011, Water For People adopted the Everyone & Forever approach for providing sustainable WASH services within a given geographical space. The idea behind the approach is to reach full coverage in a given region, with appropriate maintenance and monitoring systems in place, and with financial resources to meet on-going costs of repair and eventual replacement. Everyone means extending service to even the hardest to reach, the poorest, and most marginalised communities. Each community member must have access to water in order to stay healthy, and for economic development to occur. Forever means better long-term service for users and fewer wasted investments. Accomplishing the goals of Everyone & Forever requires bringing together several components– drawn from both Water For People and WASHCost perspectives.

Leveraging investment – While Water For People contributes certain financial resources towards capital investment, we are committed to leveraging government and sustainable service provision. Over time, Water For People’s financial investment must reduce to zero so support services remain sustainable and are effectively managed within any given context. Governments, both at the local and national levels, inject financial resources towards costs such as building materials and project planners. Community members operate and maintain the system through the collection of tariffs for the delivery of water. The infrastructure (pipes and pumps), however, is only the beginning of what it takes to sustain water delivery to community members dependent on the supply.

Building capacity – Establishing effective institutional partnerships is also critical, at the community level, and at the level of the local administrative unit. Effective local institutions are necessary to secure long-term financing, effective system management, and to regularly monitor functionality, water quality and the status of the water resource itself.  Building solid institutional partnerships requires an enormous investment in time and resources from local partners to develop their own capacity to operate and maintain a system .

Replication –In Honduras, Water For People’s programming pushed hard to reach full coverage in Chinda, a municipality two hours from San Pedro Sula. Based on the success in Chinda, other municipalities and their mayors approached Water For People to reproduce the approach in their respective areas. Eventually, if the development model proves to be successful in adjacent municipalities, Everyone & Forever can possibly create a ripple effect-- spreading across the country and ultimately leading to policy change in water resource development in Honduras.

Understanding costs - Reaching full coverage for decades into the future will not be easy. One of the biggest challenges to achieving an initiative as ambitious as the Everyone & Forever is understanding the costs behind providing sustainable services, the mechanisms of service provision, and how service demands change within the community over time.

Water For People is in the process of developing a life-cycle cost tool that’s flexible and easily applicable to a variety of contexts, since no two Water For People projects are alike. Developing this life-cycle cost tool will help demonstrate the true cost of service delivery.  The development process is based on IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre’s WASHCost project. WASHCost is producing material on cost models and is supporting Water For People’s understanding of the application of the life-cycle approach.

Water For People’s model is simple. It is designed to understand the capital costs for various technologies, their operation, and their maintenance. The tool also considers the secondary costs of accommodating population growth, service extensions to the systems, and inflation. The result of entering all costs numerically is a recommended tariff for garnering enough cash to replace the system at the end of its life, and help determine the initial cash contributions from stakeholders.

As Water For People begins to understand and document these costs, the organisation will be in a unique position to effectively fundraise based on the expected costs. Fundraising based on expected costs is sometimes difficult to comprehend since it has yet to gain momentum in the hydro-philanthropic arena.  Even though one-off projects are successful in attracting donor dollars, they are fundamentally unsustainable since the projects only account for capital and associated costs of constructing a water project. Much more needs to be invested for a project to endure the first year after its completion. Creating a huge shift in the mindset of donors who regularly fund one-off projects is needed to support Water For People’s different approach to fundraising.

Andrew Britton, Water For People

25-November 2011



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