Great article on NYTimes Fixes blog on the importance of sustainability for water projects.

Sustainability has been another of my big take away lessons from my work with AWF and our partner Africare.

Every project proposed and implemented by Africare is designed to be sustainable. Community involvement begins before sites are even selected. All proposals include the formation of local committees for well maintenance, water management and community health. Local volunteers and contractors are employed in construction. Locally obtained materials for pump construction are used whenever possible so that if a pump breaks down, parts are available.

We often have donors ask us ‘How much does it cost to build a well?” and while it would be nice to reply with a straightforward  price tag of x number of dollars, it’s impossible because a project involves so much more than just ‘building a well”. However, a few minutes spent explaining the concept of sustainability and the need for a comprehensive project is usually all it takes for donors to realize how much more effective their contributions can be.