The 1001 fontaines project aims at setting up small water production facilities to enable rural populations, who generally lack access to a safe source of water, to produce and distribute safe drinking water in a sustainable way.
In Cambodia, 10 million people live in rural areas, and 42% of the rural population still has no other choice but to drink water from unimproved sources (UNICEF report, Progress on Drinking water and Sanitation, 2012 Update).
In rural areas where we operate, the water situation is quite paradoxical: although surface water is available throughout the year in rivers and ponds, it is heavily contaminated with bacteriological pollution and unsafe for human consumption without adequate treatment. Drinking water from these sources therefore has a drastic impact on the health of rural populations, resulting in a high prevalence of water-borne diseases, particularly young children. Health expenses account for 11% of households’ income, among the principal causes of indebtedness and impoverishment (Source: EU Country Strategy Paper 2007-2013).
1001 fontaines has been working in Cambodia since 2005. The project relies on the following model: small water production facilities are implemented and entrusted to a local operator in charge of producing and selling the water at an affordable price to the villagers. The revenue generated by the water sales eventually enables the operator to cover all costs and ensure the sustainability of the initiative.
As of June 2013, more than 60 water production facilities are currently operating in the North Western regions around Battambang providing safe drinking water for over 150,000 people.
The feedback we have received from the project stakeholders over the years - beneficiaries, local communities and partner NGOs - have supported us in continuously improving our model and we are confident that the 1001 fontaines model presents a cost effective and particularly efficient solution to the issue of access to water in rural areas.
Scaling up our initiative: the Cambodia Phase 3 project
In 2012, we decided to scale up the project significantly in 2013 and 2014 and launch activities in the southern regions. This project (Cambodia Phase 3) consists in the implementation of 60 additional stations in the 4 provinces of Kandal, Prey Veng, Kamong Cham and Kamong Speu. The project is currently in progress: 20 sites have already been set up and 20 more are being launched.
We are working with the Cambodian Ministry of Rural Development and UNICEF on this project and have secured two thirds of the funding. We would be delighted to benefit from the support of the BPN to cover the implementation of one of the 20 remaining sites, as well as to benefit from the insights and expertise of the PWX members on this project.
A great part of the intervention areas for the Cambodia Phase 3 project are located in the Mekong river bed. These areas suffer severe flooding during the rainy season, which, combined with the isolated location of some villages and the bad condition of the roads, make it difficult for poor populations to benefit from adequate water resources, even though these regions are the most heavily populated areas in Cambodia.
The selected provinces were chosen because they present particular challenges regarding access to water. Three out of four of the target provinces are affected by groundwater arsenic contamination, a growing public health problem in Cambodia. And the fourth province concerned by the project -- Kampong Speu -- is among the poorest areas of the country, with a poverty rate of 45% (Source: National Institute of Statistics of Cambodia, 2006).
These communities are priorities for our organization as they are outside the scope of most access to water projects and bear the brunt of the human costs brought on by the lack of clean water. Indeed, left with no other choice than to drink water from ponds or rivers, these populations usually suffer from severe health problems.
LocationPhnom Penh, Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, Kamong Speu, Kandal, Cambodia
Primary Focus: Drinking Water - Community
Secondary Focus: Hygiene Education
People Getting Safe Drinking Water: 2,000
The 1001 fontaines project targets isolated rural areas, usually in communes with about 10,000 inhabitants each. Each commune is generally dispersed into 5 to 15 small villages over several kilometers. Our experience over the past 8 years in Cambodia has demonstrated that each 1001 fontaines sites usually impacts 2000 beneficiaries 2 years after the launch of the project, representing 20% of the villagers.
The operators’ revenue being directly linked to the number of beneficiaries, we expect this to incent each operator to develop the business to the maximum.. Indeed, the entrepreneurial model in place creates a virtuous circle whereby the more the operator develops the activity, the more revenue he gains, and the more beneficiaries are addressed, the core mission of 1001 fontaines.
In order to help each operator reach out to the maximum number of beneficiaries, the local NGO regularly visits each site, assisting the operators through awareness campaigns, door to door operations to recruit new clients and social marketing activities to develop brand recognition and willingness to buy the water produces.
Supported by the local NGO, we expect each operator to reach out to 3 000 beneficiaries 5 years after the launch of the project.
School Children Getting Water:
People Getting Sanitation: 0
The project aims at improving access to safe drinking water. Although awareness campaigns are led throughout the project, improving general knowledge of the importance of drinking safe water and sanitation, it does not contribute directly to increasing the number of people with sanitation.
People Getting Other Benefits: 1,000
Each time a new site is launched, awareness campaigns are organized in the village to present the project to the villagers and inform them on the importance of drinking safe water. These campaigns primarily target women in the villages through group sessions organized by the chief of the local community or other key opinion leaders.
These sessions contribute to raising awareness generally and increasing the villagers’ and more specifically the women’s’ knowledge on the dangers of drinking unsafe water. Women are key stakeholders in this project are they are the ones who will decide whether to buy the water or not.
Even if the people taking part in these sessions do not all become direct beneficiaries, they benefit from the actions implemented.
The project also enables 2 to 3 villagers (the operator and assistants) to be trained and have stable employment guaranteeing regular income. Indeed most rural people depend on small-scale agriculture for their livelihood, which provides low and irregular income. And these populations generally lack education and skills training, which leads to inadequate employment opportunities and low capabilities (source: IFAD). Thus, while pursuing a public health objective, 1001 fontaines also creates economic opportunities for these populations.
Application Type: Project Funding
Start Date: 2013-08-15
Completion Date: 2014-12-31
The 1001 fontaines model is based on the following cornerstones:
• Quality: producing high quality drinking water
• Accessibility: distributing the water at an affordable price
• Sustainability: ensuring the sustainability of the initiative though a social entrepreneurship model
The key characteristics of our initiative are described below:
• Focusing on the most vital need of providing clean drinking water.
Our project specifically addresses drinking water needs (2 litres a day per person) versus general water needs, which include drinking, cooking and cleaning (50 litres a day per person). We can, therefore, use small and flexible water treatment facilities instead of costly infrastructures.
• Relying on a simple and cost efficient technology: The treatment process used is a combination of sand filtration and UV radiation powered by solar energy (for more information on the treatment process, you may refer to the attachment). This environmental friendly process is particularly efficient and able to adapt easily to different sources of water. Once the water is produced, it is conditioned and sealed in 20L bottles delivered directly to the homes of the beneficiaries.
• Ensuring the quality of the water produced and monitoring it regularly. The quality of our water meets the highest World Health Organisation (WHO) standards and water quality is controlled on a frequent basis by the local teams, which support the village entrepreneurs.
• Guaranteeing accessibility. The price of the water produced is set in agreement with the beneficiary communities and monitored regularly to establish the right balance between affordability for the beneficiaries and the necessity for the entrepreneur to cover operating costs and earn a living. Special attention is also given to the most vulnerable to water-borne diseases, namely children under ten. Through our Sponsorship Programme, we provide clean drinking water free of charge every day to the primary schools in the villages, where we have installed a water production centre.
• Ensuring sustainability through a self-financing business model. Once a production site is operational, water sales provide enough revenues to cover all field expenses. These comprise the operators' salaries, as well as a monthly fee to a local technical platform in charge of maintenance and follow up (quality control, supply of spare parts and general assistance). This ensures that each production site is financially self-sufficient and that the overall solution is durable. We have recently launched a training academy in Cambodia to provide on-going training to entrepreneurs and enable us to scale up our deployment.
The project will follow a 3 step process:
1) Selecting the site in partnership with the local authority representatives,
2) Setting up the station and training the operator and
3) Following up on the activity
For each site implemented, we work closely with the local community and key opinion leaders in the village such as village chiefs, health professionals and school directors, who play a key role in encouraging behavioral changes.
Through the commune council, the local community is expected to participate actively in the project by identifying an operator for the station, setting the water selling price in collaboration with the local NGO and contributing to the initiative, generally in kind through providing a plot of land on which to install the water production unit.
In addition, the local authorities are also involved in the education and awareness campaigns which are implemented. They are particularly in charge of organizing group sessions with the women in the villages for example and generally promoting the initiative to the villagers.
1001 fontaines has built a strong partnership with the local authorities over the years, at the national level though the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), and at the local level through the decentralized units. In 2011 the MRD published its national strategy for rural water supply, sanitation and hygiene, stating the objective of providing access to an improved water supply to 50% of the rural population by 2015, and 100% by 2025.
This strategy also set a number of objectives with which 1001 fontaines’ approach is aligned, including sustainability, demand-responsive approach, community-based management, cost sharing or accountability. Provincial Departments of Rural Development actively take part in the process of selecting intervention areas. . This ensures greater ownership and appropriation of the project as well as compliance with national development policies.
The first Memorandum of Understanding between the MRD and Teuk Saat, the local NGO in charge of the implementation of the project, was signed in 2008 and renewed in 2012 and regular meetings take place between representatives of both organizations to monitor the project’s advancement.
Several activities are undertaken in addition to the setting up of the 1001 fontaines stations.
Firstly, a vocational training program – the Academy for Social Entrepreneurs – was set up in 2012 with the support of the Accenture Foundation, to assist the operators in developing their entrepreneurial skills. Indeed, the ability of each operator to develop his/her business is key to achieving and increasing the impact of the project. This program is organized around workshops (to stimulate exchange between operators), and individual coaching sessions on site (to adapt to each operator’s learning curve). The program is now compulsory for all new operators recruited.
Secondly, sponsorship programs are set up in each village where a station is implemented. These programs aim at providing water free of charge to children at school. Launched once the operators reach the break-even point, they are entirely funded by donations and are crucial to ensuring that children, who are the most vulnerable to water-borne diseases, can drink safe water every day.
Once the operators reach their break-even point, they are asked to pay a monthly fee to a local technical platform in charge of maintenance and follow up (quality control, supply of spare parts and general assistance).
This fee is calculated according to the revenue generated by each site to ensure an equitable funding of the platform (ie the most performing sites compensate for those whose activity does not generate sufficient revenue) and are integrated to the operators’ costs. The costs of the platform are fully covers once it overlooks 60 sites, ensuring the sustainability of the initiative.
For more information, you can refer to the attachment on the model.
Maintenance Cost: $0
In order to follow up on the activity and ensure that it is developing well, the main metrics which are monitored are the volumes of sales and the revenue.
This enables the local NGO to calculate the monthly fee and generally follow up on each site’s development. Following up on these metrics also helps the NGO identify when sites need specific assistance (organizing a group session or door to door operations to recruit new clients for example).
Treatment units: 2 984
Physical site preparation: 12 108
Personnel costs: 2 919
Logistical costs: 1 566
Management costs: 1 840
For more information, please refer to the budget attached
Co Funding Amount: $0
Community Contribution Amount:
In kind. Plot of land, participation in identifying the local operator
Fund Requested: $21,417
Implementing Organization: Teuk Saat
Teuk Saat 1001 is a local Cambodian NGO, created in 2007 and directed by Chay Lo, the Cambodian co-founder of 1001 fontaines. The NGO employs 40 people in Cambodia and has offices in Battambang and Phnom Penh.
The NGO is in charge of all stages of the project in the field, including:
- working with local communities to identify the operator
- implementing the water production facility
- training and supporting the operator in the development of his/her activity
- controlling the quality of the water and the compliance with the mission of social impact on the community
- organizing awareness campaigns in schools and other public places to foster changes in behaviours related to health and hygiene.
Chay Lo has a thorough experience of dealing with the local government’s representatives and NGOs to help develop the project and 1001 fontaines and Chay Lo were awarded the title of Social Entrepreneur of the Year for Asia in 2011 by the Schwab Foundation.