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6. Community Development Programs

Micro-Enterprise

Guidelines and Recommendations

Before we discuss what WMI believes are the best practices that pertain to micro-enterprise, it is important to note that the culture of each country varies tremendously and the ideas shared below might not work in every situation. It is paramount, however, that self-sustaining micro-enterprises are created in order to provide safe water at the lowest possible, affordable cost to the community. Every citation made in this section can be found on the FTP Server in the Micro-Enterprise Folder.
I. Convincing the Community that Safe Water has Monetary Value
II. The Community Assessment
III. The Ongoing Enterprise
IV. Examples of Micro-Enterprise Around the World


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I. Convincing the Community that Safe Water has Monetary Value

Preventative Care Cost-Analysis
Oftentimes a community will say that they will not pay for water when they can just fetch it from the source close by. This argument is the number one deterrent and the best way to answer this is with a preventative care cost-analysis. A preventative care cost-analysis is essentially the sum of all the costs that a specific family could be saving if they were drinking safe water. This includes:
  • Any costs involved with water-borne illnesses: Medical bills,specific drugs taken to prevent diarrhea and stomach-aches, even funeral costs involved with a death from microbe-infested water
  • The amount of wages one could have earned if they did not have to stay home with stomach pains
  • Time saved from fetching the untreated water.

If this number is compared to the cost of the treated water, then the community will quickly realize that they actually save money by investing in safe water. In Namataba, a Ugandan village, a preventative care cost-analysis was created and is explained below:

Monthly Electric Bill for Water Pump: 35,000 UGS ($20)_
One trip to medical clinic: One trip to clinic: 30,000 UGS + Medicine for ailment: 20,000 UGS

Cost for 1 person to be treated: 50,000 UGS ($28)__
If conservatively 35 people / month need the clinic: 1,750,000 UGS ($1,000)
50x savings, plus no suffering

Seeing is Believing

It is very important to let the community members see the difference between the water that they are presently drinking compared to the safe water that they could be drinking. The best way of comparing this would be to have three bottles each containing a different sort of water in it (the water from the open source in the community, the safe water offered by WMI, and the backwash water). With these three sorts of water, you can compare the sediment in their current water with the sediment Water Missions extracts from the water (bottle filled with the backwash from another system). The community will see the amount of debris that is only negatively affecting their bodies.

When the water is tested with the membrane filter test, the Petri dishes can also be used to show the amount of bacteria their water contains. True Testimonials A great way for the community to understand the importance is to bring a few people from another community that does have the treated water and have them discuss the difference. If they see their peers from a neighboring village discuss the health amplifications of the family, they will see the value.

Also, make sure to bring a glass of treated water so that the members of the new community know what to expect. The taste will be very different to what they are used to but then they know what safe water tastes like.

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II. The Community Assessment

In order for the community to successfully create a long-term, sustainable enterprise with clean water, it is vital that a lot of groundwork is done before WMI even supplies the products needed for proper filtration. While filling in the Community Assessment Form, the following topics should be addressed and discussed with the Community. Most of the following suggestions should be implemented by the SWC.

Beneficiary Base

The people who receive safe water are the most important asset of the entire Water Missions Organization. If they do not drink the safe water, we do not fulfill our mission and so it is imperative to take their advice into account when taking the next steps with the micro-enterprise. There are questions about the beneficiaries in both the Community Assessment and the M&E Report so that everyone involved with Water Missions understands who we are catering to those who will benefit with this project.

Management Plan

The way the system should be managed is explained in detail in the Governance subsection of the Community Development segment. There you will find WMI’s recommendations on organizing and running the system on a management standpoint.

Operations Plan

Hours of Operation:
The system must supply sufficient water so that every community member will be able to access enough for drinking and cooking. Water Missions recommends that it be open every day because water is vital for life.

Location:
The location of the treated water will oftentimes be close to the source however some thought should be placed in where the community members would want to pick up their water. WMI recommends discussing the location of the enclosure with the local women and children who are the ones fetching the water on a daily basis. In large communities, the enclosure should be noticeable from the street so that passers-by will see it. WMI recommends creating the tap stand designs that are referred to in the Governance Section of the Community Development Chapter. More information can be found in Appendix 24.

Distribution:
If a distribution chain is not setup immediately, one should be established within the first year of system installation. A distribution chain can be created by welding a bike with a cart together so that water can be distributed to people who can not walk the extra distance to the treated water system. Since this is brought to their home, this water might be able to be charged a bit more using the extra money to compensate the bikers. If the consumers can not afford the higher price, a reasonable price should be negotiated.

Health Impact Awareness Plan

Health & Hygiene is discussed in its own section of the Community Development segment of the Country Program Manual, however it is important to see how awareness can be used as a marketing tool to create a higher demand for the treated water. Early Awareness: As soon as WMI Headquarters has said that the community will be funded, it is important that the SWC immediately starts H&H training. This will not only teach the community what to expect from their future system, but it also builds the anticipation of the clean water.

Water Posters:
When the water system is put in place, the SWC should create posters that explain that safe water is finally available for the community and the specific hours and location of the system.

Local Schools:
Teaching Health & Hygiene classes in local schools can have an amazingly positive effect. If the younger generation understands the importance of washing your hands, drinking clean water, etc. then they oftentimes will discuss this with their parents which can help change the behaviors of the entire community.

Taste of Chlorine:
A major complaint that beneficiaries may have is that the taste of the water is too much like chlorine. This taste is very different from what they are used to. If someone tastes the treated water and does not like it, it will be very hard to get them to buy it. When the system is put in place, it might be beneficial and easier to win over the community if you lessen the chlorine and slowly add more chlorine to the mixture until you reach the desired amount. This can be a very slow increase of chlorine over a period of 5 – 6 months so that the beneficiaries do not notice the slow boost in chlorine. The minimum requirement is .25ppm after an hour of residence time and passing the membrane filter test. The amount of chlorine may not go below that. The chlorine can be increased to .5ppm over time.

If the consumers like the taste and they feel healthier because of it, they will tell their neighbors and the word-of-mouth spread that can occur can have substantial impact on the amount of people who come obtain the clean water. The opposite is also true; if someone does not like the taste of the water, they will also tell their neighbor who will stop fetching water from the system. Negative information seems to travel faster than the positive information so please be careful.

The Committee members must be advocates for teaching the entire community the importance of safe water.

Financial Plan

Income
The Price of Treated Water
The number one thing that must be calculated in order to make the system sustainable is the price the water will be for the beneficiaries. If this number is too high, they will not be able to afford it and there will be people who are not drinking clean water even with a system in the vicinity. If the price is too low, then the maintenance and operation of the system will not be sustainable for the long-term.

It is important to note that Water Missions International tries to supply water to every individual no matter how financially unstable they are. Some members of the community might not be able to pay the price that you compute and a member of the SWC should negotiate a reasonable price for them so that they still have access to clean water for drinking and cooking.

One way of supplying water to the people who may not afford it is by having them pay a lesser amount more often. Oftentimes the poorer members live on a daily wage that they earn. By having a lower price that they have to pay more often, they make up for the lost cost. (“Our Water, our waste, our town”; WaterAid p.52)

The best way of figuring the price out is by adding all of the costs associated with running and maintaining the system and dividing that by the estimation of how much water you believe will be sold in that community over a specific amount of time. One should not use the price of bottled water in the area as a benchmark because those are specifically for-profit prices. The price for treated water must cater to a larger audience.

The Unit Used to Calculate the Price
Different units can be used to measure the amount of water one would like to buy and the most common unit should be used for a base price. If the majority of the community uses 5 Liter Jerry cans then the price should be labeled with one Jerry can. If the community uses gallon jugs, then use that as a measure, etc.

With some locations, a monthly fee might make more sense. In Honduras, there are communities that already have a Water Committee that supply water to the community with pipes leading the water from the source to the center of town or even to individual houses. They charge a monthly fee for distributing this source water to the houses. In order for the community members to have access to treated water, the country director created a monthly fee that would be connected with the Water Committee’s fee. This way, the beneficiaries could go fetch the treated water in the center of town for drinking and cooking while using the source water for cleaning. (“MM Alfonso”; WMI)

A membership fee structure can also be setup. For a community member to utilize the treated water, they must pay an initial membership fee that would be placed in the Maintenance Fund for future additions and/or improvements to the project.

Expenses
In order to figure out the exact cost per liter of water produced for a specific system, it can be very beneficial to use/buy a water meter. Starting in 2010, all new systems will be supplied with a water meter. The old communities can request a water meter from WMI. By knowing the exact amount of water produced, we can sum up all other costs and divide that by the amount of water and come up with a rather specific number to create future projections with.

Normal expenses include but are not limited to:
  • Water Operator Salary
  • Alum & Chlorine
  • Diesel or Electricity (if generator is applicable)
  • Ongoing Maintenance
  • Etc.

To be able to estimate various costs, Various Treatment Systems Cost Sheet has been attached as Appendix 25. These are U.S. costs and do not include shipping, duty and value added tax. Please calculate the correct amount for the specific community.

Maintenance Fund (Savings Account)
Some sort of savings account is highly recommended for every community in order to take care of infrequent, erratic costs that might come up when an expensive part breaks. If this is not in place, the system often fails in a community because no money is set in place to fix it. The community must then revert back to fetching water from the source. By having a maintenance fund in place, the extra money is saved for any fixes and/or upgrades.

A simple way to create income would be to ask WMI Headquarters for the Water distribution buckets which the country program would give to the Committee as a gift. The Committee can then sell that to the community members and place the collected money in the Maintenance Fund.

Simple accounting for the Maintenance Fund is included in Appendix 26. In order for this maintenance fund to run smoothly, accounting of the money should take place in order to confirm that it is used for the water system and/or the community instead of funding a few corrupt members of the SWC. Note – if there is an expense that covers over more than one month, this must be accounted for in this register.

Accountability must also be thought through. For security reasons, savings accounts with local banks must often have three or four signatures from a few people in the community. That way, the money can not be taken out by one person who is looking for personal gain. It is also important to keep the budgeting and accounting as transparent as possible. The entire SWC should know the amount that is in the maintenance fund at all times. Other levels of accountability should be created to make sure that the money benefits the community.

Other Water Systems and their Methods
If there are any other organizations in the area with a focus on supplying clean water, it can be very beneficial to discuss their common methods and best practices. Seeing their Management, Operations, Health Impact Awareness, and Financial Plans can help bring particular issues to light that you might not have thought about. Also, there might be areas that WMI might be stronger at than the other organization or vice versa and there could be opportunities to work together. Our mission is to supply clean water to as many people as possible and oftentimes partnerships can exponentially help that mission.

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III. The Ongoing Enterprise

Monitoring and Evaluation Report

The M&E report for the community is a way for WMI headquarters to see the progress on a very specific level.

System Operating Costs
This section addresses the specific costs that the community will deal with so that WMI can see if everything is going as financially planned. The table addressed in this section of the M&E Report is explained in Appendix 27; Income, Expenses and Balance Form

Beneficiary Report
This is where we find out what the actual community members think about the system and the service that the SWC and WMI are providing. This simple yet powerful tool gives feedback from the people who use our services. This helps identify strengths and weaknesses that the SWC and/or WMI can address.

Budgeting

What to do with Surplus?
There must always be some amount of money in the maintenance fund to pay for unexpected costs but there is a certain point when anything above that is wasted from its potential to help the community access clean water. In order to make this system sustainable, the SWC must look at this as a long-term investment that does depreciate over time. With that in mind, they must be prepared to pay for broken parts or potential system upgrades in the future. In Honduras, $400 seemed to be a good amount.

After that threshold, the rest of the surplus should be used to better some aspect of WMI’s community development. A few examples could be:
  • Improve the system’s enclosure
  • Create an efficient distribution chain (buy the material to weld the bikes, buy the jugs to transport the water, etc.)
  • Buy extra storage tanks to be able to store more water for the busy hours of the day
  • Buy the land around the source of water to ensure that other pollutants are not going to enter the water
  • Create an incentive for the water operator (or anyone else on the SWC for that matter) that for every X new consumers brought to the system per month,they will receive X amount of money
  • Help supply water or funds to a neighboring village so that they may also have treated water.
    It is advised to not necessarily lower the price of the water. If a community member can not pay for the water a negotiable price should be decided for them. With the community members that can spend it, it is important to keep the price at a good level for a few reasons:
  • If the price is too low, the community members may not trust the cleanliness (value) of the water
  • If, at a future moment, you need to raise the price, the community members will not be pleased
  • The additional profit should be used to streamline the other areas of the project

What to do with a Deficit?
If the maintenance fund goes below that threshold discussed above, then the SWC should focus their efforts on making sure the threshold is met within the next few months. The Country Director should be informed of this occurrence and they should confirm transparency and accountability in the numbers with the Income, Expenses and Balance of the community system. The Country Director should discuss viable issues with the SWC and decide what the best course would be for the future. It is recommended to notify WMI and see what advice they might have on this matter.

Within the first year, if any equipment failures occur, WMI will cover the cost. If vandalism or theft occurs, the community is responsible for covering the cost.

If a loss continues to occur, there will come a point when the debts are retrieved and the project will fail. This stage should be avoided.

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IV. Examples of Micro-Enterprises Around the World

Africa

Uganda
Here is an example of a stand-alone micro-enterprise where a kiosk is set up in a prime location in a small community. This kiosk has specific hours of operations and everyone in the vicinity knows those hours. The lady who owns the land charges 200 Ugandan Shillings (.15 cents) for 20 L while charging 100 Ugandan Shillings if someone buys in bulk (4-6 jerry cans). There are also free jerry can washing stations with information on health and hygiene for the community to see.

These prices help pay for operating and maintenance costs for the system and do not run any unnecessary profit. In this model, there is no “safe water committee” that runs the system however there are other locations that have a group of four to six members who have specific roles (i.e. an operator, a health and hygiene educator, secretary, treasurer, etc.) to help make the system sustainable.

Malawi
Kasseye Catholic School is an example of a micro-enterprise within an existing organization. This all-girl school was started by a man who noticed that women were not able to progress in society due to their two to three hour walk to fetch water. By starting both a primary and secondary girl school, he has been helping a steady population of almost 1,200 students.

Years ago they also integrated WaterGuard to supply clean water to the students. WaterGuard is a formula that you add to the water and then filter out through cloths an hour later. Not only is this time-consuming but it also is very costly. Our Country Director discovered this community and calculated that Water Missions International could supply clean, flowing water to the entire population at less of a cost than the amount of WaterGuard formula needed to supply only the primary school! This simple solution already had flowing water from the nearby mountain so a generator pump was not needed which reduced the cost-structure significantly. The facility and management for the system was already in place due to the previous integrations. Health & Hygiene training is given to the students who, in turn, teach their parents.

Central America

Honduras
A System Connected to a School - Barrio Porbenir is a village in Colon, Honduras that also has a WMI system set up right next to the local school. This project is run through a SWC that do an extremely good job. The cost for a large jug is HNL 5 and the students receive treated water for free while attending school.

At the point of the interview, everyone in the community would walk and pick up the water at the system, however they were in the process of building a distribution chain. With money taken from the Maintenance Fund (total amount of HNL 8,000) they have hired three people with bikes to deliver water to a larger region.

The SWC has also ordered new, larger water jugs that they will sell to the community to transport the treated water. The school teaches the children health and hygiene every Monday and they offer a monthly class to the community. This project is in good shape.

The Importance of Good Marketing - The project in Cinco has much more of a focus on the distribution chain. Here, only around 12 people come fetch water (with a price of HNL 6 per jug) while 30 bottles (at HNL 10 a bottle) are distributed per day. The difference in price is kept by the distributor. HNL 10 per bottle is still relatively cheap because there is also a truck that delivers purified water in the area for a price of HNL 22. This way, the community members still ask for WMI’s treated water due to the price difference.

The SWC then focused their efforts on discussing the importance of purified water with community members who believed that one should not have to pay for water. Before this two-month long health impact awareness push, they would sell 100 bottles a week. Two months later, they would sell around 500 bottles in a week. By teaching the village the issues of unpurified water and keeping the price low, they were able to move towards a positive maintenance fund account.

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