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A vast majority of organizations simply drill a water well - and then they leave.


While water is the most important aspect, this modus operandi neglects the end game and fails to seize the ultimate objectives for development, sustainability and opportunity - and perpetuates the negative dependence on aid.

Statistically, 55% of wells have from other organizations fail within 2-3 years after completion of their projects. On average, 40% of all funding goes to the rehabilitation of abandoned projects. How can the water issue be solved like this?

We feel sustainability of projects is not only imperative for the development of the beneficiaries we serve -

but also ultimate responsibility to you as a donor.

through ownership

Skin in the Game

Each family in the community is registered and pays a fee to use the water well. Those funds are collected and managed by the Water Oversight Committee.


This allows the community to have skin in the game and own the project as their own. 


A fund for repairs

This money goes into a fund to use for any maintenance and repairs — cutting the reliance on the aid organizations to solve their problems. 


Community decision making

The community is involved in all aspects of project planning the project and determining these tariffs.


Ownership leads to responsibility


If the beneficiaries of these project pay to use the water well — especially given their poverty levels — then they are more likely to take care of it. Additionally, if they are made very aware that if the pump breaks down because of negligence, that we will not come to fix it for them — then they are more likely to maintain it… because it is their own. 




We cover all aspects of installation, bi-weekly maintenance checks, part replacement intervals, diagnostics and repair. We cover this over and over again until they are able to pass an exam given to them by Water Underground. By the end of the process, they are trained technicians of the well. In fact - many communities have helped neighboring communities with their issues - giving them added value in their community status. 

Community Notice Board

While it may seem trivial, it is actually quite significant and effective. Communication between the entire community may be difficult for the Chief and members of the Committee and usually only rely on word of mouth or community wide meetings. These work fine for major announcements but difficult for day-to-day coordination of information.


While knowing that every family must fetch water from the well, having a notice board placed there helps with coordinating all the new components of the project as well as supporting the existing framework of the community.

through accountability

Each commission within the Water Oversight Committee has various monitoring roles to hold everyone accountable.

Community-Led Monitoring


All activities are recorded and shown to Water Underground Monitoring staff — especially in the first year. Unannounced monitoring visits are done by Water Underground to check these reports in that first year.

Key responsibilities include:

Record keeping

Keeping records of bi-weekly routine maintenance of the well. This record is signed by the President of the committee every other week.

Financial transparency

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Keeping an ongoing list of all users of the well;  a monthly record of the taxes paid by family using of the well, a budget sheet of all financial assets and expenses of the project. 

Sanitation Center Maintenance


Monitor the cleanliness of Sanitation Center; the constant supply of soap in the hand-wash stations and that proper practice of hand washing is applied; cleanliness of Jerry cans used by community when fetching water. 

CLTS Continuation


Monitor 100% open defecation free status, and Monthly home visits to assigned families assessing & advising hygiene practices. 


The Solar Incentive

If the community executes these roles flawlessly for one year - the community is upgraded to a solar powered water distribution system.


The intention of this incentive is that it establishes these best practices as commonplace and allows the community to accept them as routine.

Read more about our solar projects

through opportunity

Each commission within the Water Oversight Committee has various monitoring roles to hold everyone accountable.


A 12,000 sq. / ft garden is built adjacent to the well providing an opportunity for food security and income generation.


There are many possibilities to use water as a key ingredient in reducing poverty — and small-scale agriculture is at the forefront. Strategic community-wide and household agriculture can lead to food security, increases in health, income, and the stimulation of the local economy in the rural areas. 


Read more about our agriculture program here.

Water as the Catalyst

We have been delighted to see what other community led initiatives have spawned after the Water Underground program has been completed in the community. It is actually some of the most gratifying results to observe — because these have been entirely on their terms — for no other reason that to create benefit for their community.


By using profits from agriculture, community contributions and led by the Water Oversight Committee, we have seen the creation of:

Poultry Farm


A poultry farm was built that has generated jobs, needed eggs, and community profit that led to the building of a health center!

Rural Health Clinic


Community generated profits and leadership led to the building of a government-staffed health clinic in their community.

Building of 4

Secondary Schools


The Committees in 4 of the communities that Water Underground has done projects in have mobilized the community and government and opened new Secondary Schools in their communities. 

The Story of Mavume

Read about a beautiful example from the community of Mavume where they are climbing their development ladder with dignity & self-reliance.


A story perfectly embodying what we hope happens after our project.


Read about it here. 

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through capacity building
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By being in front of the entire process as decision makers and owners of the project - they are personally and emotionally invested in its success. Equipped with the tools to solve problems themselves, a cycle of dependence on foreign aid begins to evaporate. 

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Women's Empowerment

The Water Issue is a Women’s Issue.

Community development is only possible if the women are vital members of the process. We insist at least 51% of the committee is women and cover issues of women’s health, infant health and promote the empowerment of women in the community at every stage. 

Read more


The committee holds their own monthly meetings, continues the School Health Program curriculum, maintains their community as Open Defecation Free (CLTS), communicates with the health department for vaccines, repairs the well themselves and guides the community towards development.


The Leadership structure now extends beyond just one chief. They all work together in a gender inclusive environment. 

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