How to make access to safe water more sustainable – Part 1

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About this episode
Charles Macai, a water specialist with 25 years experience leading projects across Africa, shares about how communities can have sustainable access to safe water. He discusses the benefits of business-based approaches, and why it is important to collaborate with governments to ensure long-term sustainable access. 

  • Water infrastructure
Water covers 71 per cent of the world, but one in every four people does not have reliable access to enough safe and affordable drinking water.

The construction of water infrastructure, such as boreholes and handpumps, is just one part of a water service. To keep the water flowing, good management, finance and legal structures need to be in place to make sure that the infrastructure is properly looked after and maintained.

  • Water businesses
Historically, water projects have relied on trained community volunteers to keep water points working. But the large number of non-functioning water points around the world shows that this approach often does not work.

Charles Macai discusses why this is the case, and why communities are increasingly moving from volunteer-based water management to business-based approaches. 

To explain, Charles uses an example from South Sudan where a legally-recognised cooperative of trained mechanics enters into agreements with communities to manage their water systems. The communities develop payment structures based on what people can afford, as well as the service that is being provided. 

  • Working with governments
Charles goes on to discuss why organisations and projects should align with, and contribute to, government plans for water provision when possible. 

In light of the many challenges associated with climate change, such collaborations will help to ensure the long-term sustainability of community water supplies.
How to make access to safe water more sustainable – Part 1
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