The barriers to local sustainability significantly overlap with the obstacles of taking our model to scale. The consumer, operational, financial and environmental issues all come into play when attempting to replicate the model across a region.
Specific scale barriers include:
Financial: Although there is a lot of money spent on attempting to solve drinking water, much of it goes toward large, utility type, urban projects. To date, the sector has not attracted signficant sums for rural, off-grid projects at scale.
Value Chain: There are a variety of support services and capabilities required to keep Safe Water Stations running smoothly on a large scale. However, off-grid communities have lacked the training to manage and operate decentralized water systems. No outlets exist that carry the inventory needed to keep Safe Water Stations operational.
Consumer Awareness: The lack of awareness about the benefit of safe-water usage creates a challenge to accelerate both trial and adoption of safe water on a wide scale, especially when unsafe, free alternatives exist.
Regulatory: The right balance of regulation and oversight is required to create an environment that allows entrepreneurs and communities the ability to set up businesses that can succeed long-term while protecting the well-being of its citizens and preserving water sources for generations to come.
Safe Water Network has several scale initiatives underway to address these issues including our cluster expansion programs in Ghana and India. Both countries are launching sites in geographic proximity so that a Water Services Entity can cost-effectively provide technical support and spare parts. Our innovations are all aimed at overcoming specific challenges in ways that can streamline a process for standardization, so that it can be cost-effectively replicated at scale. Our forums, events and publications are designed to bring the sector together to explore how together we can reach more people, faster.
We believe that as we continue to expand our local success by demonstrating that the model can be sustained at scale, sufficient capital will become available to reach the many still in need of affordable, safe water.