Making reliable water someone’s business
Putting in new water and sanitation systems is easy—keeping them up and running for years after installation is another matter. The Rural Water Supply Network estimates that 30-40% of installed rural water points in developing countries are broken. Through a systems analysis of the ways that rural water and sanitation systems traditionally fail, the Sustainable Village Water Systems Program has developed a business model that turns these failure modes into essential elements.
Franchise Model Elements
- Preferred vendor network ensures timely access to spare parts and warranties in case of replacement
- Checks and balances built in
- Local business ownership, regional support network
- Entrepreneurship opportunities for women integrated with workforce development
- Communities own the pump infrastructure, with franchisee operating and maintaining it
- Incentives are in place for franchise participants to achieve a target number of operational days per year—motivating rapid, cost-effective maintenance of primary infrastructure
- Three signatories are needed to release funds from a water point’s repair account: the local franchisee that operates the water point, the Community Owned Water Supply Organisation (COWSO), and the district water engineer (the local representative of the Ministry of Water)
- Franchisees and franchisors submit a refundable deposit into the water point account as a guarantee of fair service, receivable when the contract has ended
- Franchise system has links with local NGOs to support specialized services such as hygiene and sanitation awareness workshops, credit financing services, and technical training
A work in progress
With the help of a myriad of consulting partners, from the World Bank to Maasai leaders, GWI is continuing to develop its in-country franchising model for water services. But we’re open to ideas! Take a look at our latest working draft and drop us a line with comments.