Our Approach

Water access is about more than just pumps

GWI developed its Sustainable Village Water Systems program because rural water access depends on a lot more than just a new pump, and long-term improvements to community health and livelihoods depend on a lot more than just water.

The Sustainable Village Water System model combines:

• installation of solar-powered water systems designed to meet long-term community needs
• introduction of a private operator model for water system operations and maintenance (O&M)
• technical and business skill training for operators, technicians, and entrepreneurs
• intensive agricultural training and support for smallholder farmers

Download our Model Fact Sheet.

Tangible results for people and communities

GWI launched its Sustainable Village Water System (SVWS) program in two pilot villages in the Singida region of central Tanzania, home to approximately 10,000 people. These communities are located in a semi-arid region that is one of the most impoverished in Tanzania.

Intensive, prolonged work by the GWI team and our in-country partners has produced tangible results in the two communities:

• clean water supply and improved water access for approx. 10,000 residents, now operational for over one year without interruption
• first dedicated on-site water supply for one community’s health center, which includes a labor and delivery ward
• first dedicated on-site water supply for one community’s primary school, which serves over 700 children from kindergarten to grade 7
• formation of farmer groups to facilitate effective and efficient agronomic training and improve peer-to-peer support networks
• development of nurseries to support forest gardens
• introduction of orange sweet potato and other crops to improve household nutrition, diversify crop types, develop cash crops, and improve soil quality
• intensive training to increase harvests and link smallholder farmers directly to markets

Read more about results from Trees for the Future’s work and our SVWS Baseline Survey from Global Partners for Development.

No one can do this alone

Recognizing that no singular organization can bring all the necessary skills, experience, relationships, financing or management capacity to carry out such ambitious programming, GWI intentionally cultivates partnerships with rural communities, the Tanzanian government, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral donors, private businesses, foundations, and universities.

Implementing the SVWS pilot projects has involved intensive, prolonged work by our in-country partners. These partnerships are essential to build strong relationships with the communities and local government, get inputs and feedback to ensure that design and implementation aligns with real community needs, and carry out the work to the highest possible standard. Learn more about our partnerships here.

Each component of the SVWS model was developed through assessment of the current physical and socioeconomic environment of rural Tanzania, and in conversation with the Tanzanian government at national and local levels, development partners, and other NGOs.

Growing our impact

Expanding beyond the SVWS pilot projects, GWI is now completing Phase 1 of a Water and Development Alliance (WADA) project funded by USAID and Coca-Cola (view details here), matched 1:1 by WorldServe International and the WaterBoys initiative of the Chris Long Foundation (see External Partners).

This project implements 14 sustainable water systems in central Tanzania, including dedicated access at community schools and clinics, providing improved water access to 75,000 people. In addition, a training facility has been installed at the University of Dodoma for hands-on student training and collaborative research between UDOM and Ohio State faculty.

New solutions for old problems

GWI recognizes the complexity of sustainability issues that have plagued efforts to provide rural water services across Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to investing considerable time and resources to ensure high quality design and installation of infrastructure, GWI’s work incorporates new technologies and management models that build on the current state of learning in the rural water sector.

Signing of a Village Project Agreement before any work begins. The agreement is co-signed by community leadership, the implementation partner and local government, and specifies the roles and responsibilities of all parties. This codified partnership recognizes the role that each local stakeholder plays in service provision, and the need for each stakeholder to hold the others accountable to ensure success.
Introduction of a private operator model for ongoing operations and maintenance, including financial management. Details of this arrangement are outlined in a Private Operator Agreement co-signed by the community, private operator, and local government. The agreement includes a pricing policy that allows for tariff setting and revenue collection that support a business-oriented O&M model while also ensuring that the most vulnerable community members are not excluded from water access.

Training for new private operator technicians and entrepreneurs. To support introduction of the new private operator model, private operators in each community are provided training and a manual that covers both the technical and business aspects of system operations.
Capitalizing on digital technology. The GWI Team installs sensors on all its new solar-powered water systems, which provide remote monitoring of pump operations, water flow and production rates, and borehole water level to track groundwater drawdown and recovery. This data is available to all local stakeholders to improve transparency and accountability of water system operations and to assist with sustainable water resource use.

GWI is also active in other efforts to help develop the private sector around rural water services. In Tanzania, GWI works with organizations including the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation, leading vendors of water system infrastructure, and the Tanzanian Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, and is currently developing an offering for franchising of rural water services. View our Franchise Model.