The Water Entrepreneur, more than just safe and clean drinking water
In the rural areas of Africa, many people don’t have access to clean drinking water. This leads to health problems, especially in children, as well as low productivity and small chances of development. Large-scale drinking water initiatives are often not sustainable as a result of high costs, inadequate maintenance and unclear ownership.
The Eijkelkamp Foundation (Giesbeek, The Netherlands) has developed a concept that enables entrepreneurs in rural villages to pump up and sell clean drinking water with the use of innovative techniques. The objective here is to provide the people in rural Benin with clean drinking water within walking distance from their homes and to do this
for € 5,- per person for an entire year.
The social dimension of our approach lies in the fact that young, unemployed graduates, who are unable to find work, are being retrained to be entrepreneurs. They relocate to a rural area and make a living selling water. The Eijkelkamp Foundation supports them in this for the duration of five years. Once the entrepreneur has become successful, he or she will start to take on other commercial activities as well, which will enable the village to develop even further.
In terms of technical innovation, three aspects are important: the water has to be safe and available both in close proximity to the people and in sufficient quantities year-round.
- An experienced, local drilling company drills a well that is deep enough to supply high-quality water year-round;
- The well is installed in the center of the village so women and children don’t have to walk hours to draw water; and
- The water is pumped up using solar energy, after which people can draw water using a chip card of sorts.
The financial dimension is aimed at sustainable development. Entrepreneurs operate according to a business plan which allows them to, apart from making a decent living, also pay off their start-up loan, in the long run enabling new entrepreneurs to start-up as well.
The initiative of the Eijkelkamp Foundation is financed for 60% by the Fonds Duurzaam Water (Sustainable Water Fund) from the Dutch national government, over the course of
7 years (starting October 2014).