The Ohio State University

Sustainable Village Water Systems: Tanzania Today, Sub-Saharan Africa Tomorrow Highly Ranked

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Project Summary

Lack of clean water, secure food sources, hygiene and sanitation has resulted in poverty, malnutrition and disease for over 540 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mitigation efforts thus far have been well-intentioned but short-lived, and sometimes destructive. There are 46,000 failed water points in Tanzania alone. An Ohio State-led consortium has successfully piloted a comprehensive systems solution in response to this pervasive problem. The Sustainable Village Water System (SVWS) approach seeds economic empowerment and promotes health and wellness at the local level by creating a nexus between water (solar-powered wells), food (agricultural extension) and better health (hygiene, sanitation at schools and clinics).The model builds upon community assets to grow community governance capacity, promote women-owned businesses, and launch peer-to-peer networks while leveraging smart technology to mitigate against systems failures. We aim to scale from an existing 27 to 250 rural villages across Tanzania (1.25 million beneficiaries), then across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Problem Statement

In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), over 300 million people lack access to clean water; 27 million people in Tanzania alone (approximately one in two residents). This includes communities that have never received clean water and those affected by an estimated 46,000 failed water points. Reasons for these failures are many and include lack of community buy-in, low community management capacity, and insufficient finances for maintenance and repairs. Water delivery systems have been slow to adapt to more business-like, integrated solutions. Historically, donor-funded projects have added to the problem by using short-term success metrics (e.g. number of wells installed) rather than long-term outcome measures (e.g. number of operational days per year per well).Clean water scarcity negatively affects health, nutrition, education and economic activity. Only 10% of rural Tanzanians have access to improved sanitation and hygiene facilities. Only 13% of schools have hand-washing stations. Only 11% have adequate latrines. Most (80% of) Tanzanians are farmers, yet only 16% are food secure, and 51% of children under 5 in rural areas are stunted due to chronic malnutrition.Tanzania’s progress toward meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals for clean water, sanitation, zero hunger, good health, quality education and economic growth is slow, like much of SSA. SSA lags other regions due to extent of need, project failure rates, climate change impacts, delivery system deficiencies, and insufficient government investment. Reliance on external funding is insufficient. New ways of creating and delivering capital for investment to meet human needs are desperately needed.

Solution Overview

Addressing critical and interrelated problems requires a paradigm shift. Our Sustainable Village Water System (SVWS) solution delivers more than just water: SVWSs are owned by the villages and address local priorities. They leverage local assets and infuse new capital (financial, human) to support a comprehensive water-food-health-education system. SVWSs consist of: 1) newly installed or repaired solar-powered wells, monitored remotely for operational status/technical support and drilled with consideration for aquifer sustainability; 2) establishment and training of private water operators with a community-approved pricing model and checks in place for transparency; 3) improved hygiene and sanitation facilities at schools and clinics with community-wide behavior education programs; 4) newly established or better supported farmer groups for training of best practices for sustainable, profitable harvests; and 5) a long-term relationship with communities to ensure continued functioning of all components and growth of local capacity.This model has been validated in two pilot projects and is currently being scaled to another 25 villages across Tanzania. It addresses critical project failure points, capitalizes on emerging technologies, adapts market mechanisms, ensures community buy-in, and puts emphasis on long-term outcome measures like reduced incidence of disease, increased school attendance, and improved food security. 100&Change would allow expansion from 27 to 250 villages, potentially benefiting 1.25 million people. Implementation will occur in clusters of 15-25 villages. Lessons learned could pave the way for expansion across Sub-Saharan Africa. The Tanzanian government and local village leaders actively support SVWS, its private operator model, its scalability and portability to other nations.

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Project Funders

  • USAID/Coca-Cola Foundation 2018 - 2020
  • WorldServe/Waterboys 2018 - 2020
  • USAID DRG: Governance Research on Water Systems (GROWS) Project 2018 - 2020

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