How the Africa Water Bank works…
The Africa Water Bank (AWB) was established in 2008. It is a not for profit organization – however it works differently to many NGO’s. It is open to partnership with any community or group that does not have access to clean drinking water.
It has an unusual way of working. It is a development organization – not just a charity – so there is an expectation that the communities it partners with will play an important part in the development of the water-point – in fact it only partners with communities that are prepared to do just that.
It usually provides up to 85% of funding but the community must have a strong water-point committee and be committed to owning, managing and maintaining the water-point once it is complete.
The AWB’s first preference is usually to install a ground rain-water harvesting system with high capacity storage and sand and charcoal box filtration – or alternatively a hand-pump on a drilled borehole – the reason being these systems can be fully maintained at a community level. Generator sets with submersible pumps are no longer recommended.
The community must develop its own management and maintenance plan – train two managers – fence the water-point – build animal troughs – have a tree planting program – agree to the charging of a small fee for the water – dig holes for pit latrines in agreed sites and have a development plan for the future development of the water point. They also have to raise 15% of the total costs and provide clean sand and gravel and blocks for any cement work that is necessary.
The AWB will only work with communities that are prepared to do – and in fact do these things. The AWB also believes good water management is equally important to the provision of clean water and therefore promotion of awareness about the need to care for existing water resources is its other objective. It uses its Facebook and web pages for this purpose. It also conducts educational community workshops about caring for existing water resources.
50% of donated water-points either fail or become dysfunctional within 18 months – due mainly to poor management and maintenance. The AWB has a 98% success rate and even though some think it too strict AWB installed water points remain functional.
The AWB has assisted in the development of more than 350 new water-points since 2008 and repaired nearly as many dysfunctional ones. The AWB works in Mali, Niger, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya. It will soon complete a major project in South Sudan (100 boreholes) before commencing a similar one in Pokot County in Kenya.
A weekly blog is posted each Monday on its FaceBook page – past blogs can be found under DISCUSSIONS on the same page. A short quote, statistic or fact is posted each day to keep people informed about the Africa Water Bank and the water crisis and to provide advice about how individuals and communities can better care for their existing water resources.
Copies of AWB community agreements are available on request. Once a community indicates it is prepared to fulfill its commitments as per the agreement – a representative of the Africa Water Bank will visit the community to assess where they are up to and if necessary provide assistance or information to get them started. The AWB only then matches the community with an appropriate donor. The AWB stresses that it does not undertake any construction until the partner community has fulfilled all of its obligations. We have found this usually takes about 12 months.
The provision of clean water in Africa will save more lives than any other intervention.