Maintenance teams: a Water for Good innovation
Water for Good’s preventative maintenance model is the only one of its kind in Africa. See how we use tablet technology to increase transparency
This is a tragedy. Clean water supply from a village pump improves health and reduces the time spent collecting water. Yet, all across Africa, women collecting water for their families must walk past broken and abandoned water pumps to instead get water from open, disease-spreading sources. When the pump fails, all this progress is lost. People get sicker and often girls have to drop out of school to help their mothers collect water from distant, dirty sources.
This is a waste. Often, these wells, representing tens of thousands of dollars in initial investment, will slowly deteriorate because of a failed $10 part that could easily be replaced in 30 minutes by a trained repair team.
a sustainable solution
After Water for Good drills or rehabilitates a well, we works with the community to plan and manage each water project. Instead of short-term handouts, Water for Good is creating a long-term maintenance program based on trust and a contract with the village. How you can support this model
PREVENTATIVE Maintenance Teams
Most repair models are reactionary; they just fix broken pumps. Water for Good maintenance is innovative because we employ four preventative well-maintenance teams.
At the core, this model relies on a contract between Water for Good and the village. The community commits to begin to raise $8 USD per month for a full-service maintenance contract with Water for Good. In return, our teams manage the usual wear and tear on the pumps, check on the community’s sanitation and hygiene progress, and fix broken equipment, preventing periods without water.
So, what is a maintenance team?
- One well-mechanic and one assistant/driver, as well as a sanitation/health trainer
- These teams are outfitted with a truck, tools, training, and routes that include every well in our program.
- Each team manages approximately 350 wells per year
- The team is responsible for collecting and tracking village well-committee payments
- They report on the impact of the well and the maintenance needs through a customized iPad app.
Transparency via tablet Reporting
In 2012 Water for Good took a big step and implemented tablet-based reporting in CAR. This high-tech solution dramatically increases transparency. The teams now report on their work while still in the field using their tablet, and a custom data-collection form. The results are amazing; automatic GPS coordinates and time stamps are available as soon as they return to one of the base camps. The data-collection form is customizable, so it can adapt to the needs and interests of donors. We seek to empower our supporters with the knowledge of where your money went! We already more accurately track village payment records and manage our supply chain, thanks to this new system.
How can YOU support this innovative model?
In 9 years we have developed this entirely innovative model. But, Water for Good must continually work to streamline this model and build capacity. Trying to balance the payment costs, the payment schedule, figure out the best vehicles to use, the right ratio of wells to repair staff, experimenting with well-monitoring equipment – all of these things mean short-term costs that a village can’t handle, but are essential to a successful long-term program.
Help Water for Good… streamline the model:
This is typically a 5 year period when each village is figuring out how to collect money and make payments on time. Water for Good tries to ease the villages into the expense of managing a well, but we require funding to do this.
Help Water for Good… build capacity:
Our current teams are maxed out, and you could help by covering the start-up costs for another team (vehicle, tools, training, etc).
The maintenance program is currently paid for by a combination of contributions from the local villages and subsidies from Water for Good. Eventually, repairs will be entirely funded by the local villages, once the processes for billing and collecting the monthly fees is perfected. As of 2013, Water for Good’s 3 maintenance teams care for over 500 wells on a regular basis.
Want to find out more about the maintenance issue? Check out these great sources!