Sustainability is at the heart of our approach in developing countries to help viably improve the living conditions of local populations. Every action ONE DROPTM takes is focused on this long-term vision.
Technologies are carefully selected to take into account several factors. First, the understanding of the local context is crucial in order to evaluate the true needs of populations as well as their preferences and expectations, which are guided by their values, mores and culture. For example, communities in Central America are generally organized based on family structure, whereas in Africa, they are more community-based. With our projects in Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador, we provide each participating family with a ceramic or plastic water filter to help them eliminate almost all (99%) of the bacteria in their water. During our projects in Burkina Faso, we favored building and rehabilitating community water access points (with manual pumps). In Guatemala, water is supplied directly to homes with a pipe system. By taking into account specificities of each community, we ensure that local populations optimally use—and take ownership of—our infrastructures and technologies.
The availability of local materials and replacement parts are also part of our criteria when selecting technologies to use in our projects; they are key to our initiatives’ long-term viability. In fact, if a supply chain guarantees the availability of required items at affordable prices, the maintenance and repair of infrastructures are greatly facilitated. This ensures that installations are used to the fullest capacity. In our projects in Central America, we build energy-efficient stoves, which improve the respiratory health of local populations and reduce wood burning. These stoves are made of clay, a primary resource that is abundant in the region. Training is given to several beneficiaries so that they can build the stoves themselves and transmit this knowledge on to others. In India (Odisha), electro-chlorination water purification systems use salt, a substance that can easily be found in the area. Beneficiaries have also established a community fund to finance the purchasing of salt. This is a compelling testament to their willingness to keep the purification systems in good use.
The availability of qualified workforce to continuously maintain the infrastructures in place is equally important. In India (Bihar), our partner, Water for People, developed a network of mobile technicians, called Jalanbandhus (friends of water). These technicians are trained on how to perform maintenance on water (manual pumps) and sanitation (latrines) facilities. Their in-depth understanding of local supply chains enables them to be efficient and, ultimately, ensure optimal functioning of all installations.
The technologies used to improve access to clean drinking water and sanitation varies from country to country and is based on local realities. In general, we select affordable equipment that is easy to install, use and maintain. The equipment must also be deemed acceptable by local populations and designed to withstand long-term use. These criteria are paramount to ensuring the sustainability of our initiatives in the field.