Sustainable WASH Systems

Whave provides preventive maintenance service of water sources in rural Uganda to ensure daily reliability of safe water.

Photo of Pamela West
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Whave Solutions

Year founded

2012

Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $500k - $1m

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • More than 100,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Uganda

Headquarters location: City

Kampala

Location(s) of impact

Uganda: National impact based on model systems in rural areas in Kotido, Kaabong, Kumi, Kamuli and Nakaseke districts.

Website

http://www.whave.org

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

In rural Uganda, 80% of the population suffers from frequent prolonged downtime of clean water sources, with severe health consequences. The “wait till it breaks” culture has many causes, including absence of incentives for preventive maintenance; electioneering, lack of NGO co-ordination, weak local governance and weak infrastructure quality control, misuse of funds linked to lack of affordable rural banking facilities.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

While considerable investments are made in rural water infrastructure, frequent prolonged down-time is endemic and forces reversion to contaminated water, with productivity consequences. Whave has overcome this barrier to economic growth by inviting water users to sign 5-year service contracts. Annual payments are made to Whave acting as a locally-registered model service utility. The revenue performance-pays local technicians for full reliability, introducing preventive maintenance schedules and penalising prolonged repair times. Whave is training and franchising local service companies as viable businesses providing reliability assurance within Public-Private Partnership frameworks. This is also a solution to the endemic hygiene crisis, because the presence of an effective maintenance structure, justifies investment in small rural piped systems which underpin hygiene.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Climate change is causing longer and less predictable dry periods which increases dependency on reliable borehole water for animals, crops, and human health. Whave’s business approach is popular with communities and government, already proving that full reliability is affordable. Currently 270 rural communities in five districts experience less than 4 days downtime per year on average compared to baselines from 50 to 200 down-days. This has transformed health and productivity levels. Whave has shown that people are willing to pay for a reliable water service, so laying the foundation for investment in rural piped supply, which solves the issue of poor hygiene in rural areas where inadequate volumes of water are carried long distances. The impact is also on governance capacity. Local governments are passing by-laws which mandate preventive maintenance service agreements, banking of maintenance funds, and minimum tariff levels. Central government has requested roll-out nationally.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Our work is focused on sustainability. Earned income averages 20% of the amount needed for financially viable local service utilities. Grant income plus earned revenue builds the necessary government regulation capacity, and helps scale customers to economic levels. $1/family/month is needed from approx 600 communities for economy of scale, while privately-managed supply typically costs $4-$8/family/month, such that social consensus is emerging.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Whave establishes self-sustaining and reliable water supply for people vulnerable to climate change.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

When travelling in villages where ill-health and hunger were common occurrences, Adam Harvey, the founder of Whave, was amazed to see half the water pumps not working, and women and girls regularly collecting drinking water from heavily polluted ponds. His thought was, “if only the technicians had a real financial incentive to check for worn parts and replace them before an expensive breakdown, all this suffering could disappear”. Then he realized that this was in fact a practical possibility – if a service company was paid by the villagers to relieve them of the headache of maintenance, they would pay and the service company could pay the technicians not for repairs but for preventive checks and replacements of parts.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Other

9 comments

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Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

A really exciting project that deserves a lot of support. We know the difficulties in this region and your work is so amazing. Congratulations. It will be a pleasure to help you in this proect. Best regards.

Photo of Pamela West

Thank you Mouhamadou for your support! It's indeed a challenging field to work in, but also so important. We'll continue to work towards access to reliable, safe water for everyone.

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

You are welcome Pamela. Go ahead because i'm sure that everything gonna be ok.

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