1001 fontaines is a non profit organization (created in 2004) working actively to improve access to safe drinking water in developing countries. 1001 fontaines’ vision is to create, in each target village, a community-based professional and sustainable activity enabling villagers to drink totally safe water, every day, therefore directly impacting their health by eliminating one of the major sources of water-borne diseases. This approach relies on two core ideas: simple technologies and entrepreneurial spirit.
safe drinking water, water quality, social entrepreneurship, sustainability, accessibility, rural water supply
1001 fontaines is a non profit organization (created in 2004) working actively to improve access to safe drinking water in developing countries. 1001 fontaines’ vision is to create, in each target village, a community-based professional and sustainable activity enabling villagers to drink totally safe water, every day, therefore directly impacting their health by eliminating one of the major sources of water-borne diseases.
This approach relies on two core ideas: simple technologies and entrepreneurial spirit.
A simple and lasting solution.
Each treatment unit purifies 600L of water per hour, using microfiltration and UV disinfection. Water is then distributed in sealed 20-litres jugs, ensuring its quality at the point of consumption.
This simple process enables the “entrepreneur” to sell this water at an affordable price (US $ 0.01 per litre), while this small business generates 2 to 4 jobs for each treatment unit.
We strongly believe that the best way to ensure the success and sustainability of such water supply is to have it powered by an “entrepreneur” whose own living conditions will be directly related to the development of his/her activity.
Therefore, 1001 fontaines approach consists in creating micro economic activities around water production and distribution, managed by village entrepreneurs for the benefit of their village communities. The entrepreneur’s role is to purify water and package it into 20-litre jugs, and then deliver and sell these jugs in the village at a price low enough to be affordable for villagers, but high enough to cover maintenance costs for the production unit and assure him/her a sufficient income.
Project implementation and long-term follow-up is ensured by a technical support platform, i.e. a team of engineers, technicians and animators who supports each village entrepreneurs to manage and develop his activity. The platform also provides services such as water quality control, spare parts supply, training, in exchange for a monthly charge payed by each entrepreneur. financial sustainability is thus ensured both at the micro-enterprise and the platform level.
Several pilot projects were implemented between 2005 and 2011 in Cambodia and Madagascar. As of early 2012, roughly 70,000 persons, in 54 villages, drink 1001 fontaines water everyday.
This solution is specifically designed for rural areas were surface water is available all year long.
First projects started in the northwest of Cambodia, and a scale-up phase is currently on-going in southern provinces.
A similar approach was launched in Madagascar in 2008 in the region of Tamatave, and next steps include a pilot project in India (2012).
A former business consultant and Partner of Accenture (1975-1997), François Jaquenoud is convinced that social-oriented projects should be conducted with the same skills, processes and commitment than regular business projects projects
In 2004 François co-founded 1001 Fontaines with a young Cambodian engineer, Chay Lo, who graduated in 2003 from the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, with a MA in Rural Engineering, and then specialized in water resource management at the French ENGREF School. Today Chay Lo is director of 1001 fontaines operations in Cambodia.
In 2007, Lo was recognized as one of the “Ten most Outstanding Young People of the world” by the Junior Chamber International network. In September 2011, he was awarded the title of “Asian social entrepreneur of the year” by the Scwhab Fondation.
1001 fontaines is supported by various sponsors and partners – Accenture, danone.communities, Fondation Ensemble, Veolia, Fondation Mérieux (France) – as well as public actors. In Cambodia, the Mnistry of Rural Development is involved alongside 1001 fontaines, with financial support from institutions such as UNICEF and the Agence Française de Dévelopment.
As of 31 December 2011, 54 safe water production centers are operating in Cambodia and Madagascar, serving everyday more than 70.000 beneficiaries (half of them being children under 10). Most of these “entrepreneurs” have reached their break-even point, ensuring the sustainability of the water provision service for the benefit of their community.
A strategic plan (2011-2015) has been established to identify the financial, human and partnership requirements in order for this initiative to have a significant impact on rural populations health.
This plan has three major components :
- Roll out the initiative to one-third of Cambodia by 2015, to reach between 300,000 and 500,000 beneficiaries through 250 operating sites, with financial support from the Cambodian Ministry of Rural Development and institutional donors (UNICEF, French Development Agency).
- Deploy similar projects in Madagascar (since 2008) and India (starting in 2012)
- Strengthen our model in domains such as health impact evaluation (study underway in Cambodia), social marketing, training and capacity building of local partners and human resources.
The main purpose of 1001 fontaines is to decrease the burden of water-borne diseases in developing countries, especially among children below 5 y/o, who are the most vulnerable. The solution focuses on the safety of drinking water, which is the most critical use of water and the cause of many diseases.
1001 fontaines’ priority is water quality at the point of consumption, many studies having demonstrated that, even when villagers have access to a water source of proper quality, the “last mile” (transportation and storage at home) is a prime source of recontamination, resulting in poor bacteriological quality of water at the point of consumption.
1001 fontaines also addresses the questions of sustainability and autonomy, which key to every development project. The solution relies on a solid economic model, with entrepreneurship and project ownership being the driving forces of long term impact on beneficiaries’ life.
The requested investment to create a 1001 fontaines water production capacity in one village is approximately US $ 20,000, in order to serve an average number of 1,500 beneficiaries after 2 years, which means a ratio of US $ 13 per beneficiary.
The social return on investment tends to be even higher – approximately US $ 6 / person – after a few years, each project being designed to reach around 3,000 beneficiaries after 5 to 8 years.
The impact of the solution on people’s health has been confirmed many times by beneficiaries. A comprehensive impact study is underway to verify the facts on the field, with support from epidemiologists form the University of East Anglia (UK) and involvement of local contractor to conduct the field survey.
From an economic perspective, purchasing drinking water is not only cheaper than buying fuel to boil water, and it makes possible for villagers to avoid some health expenses and save money. In addition, the solution involves the creation of 2 to 4 income-generating jobs in each target commune.
Finally, because the solution relies on social entrepreneurship, there is no limit to long-term sustainability other than the dynamism of entrepreneurs.
The main indicator to assess the effectiveness of the solution is the number of beneficiaries, i.e. people who have access to 1001 fontaines water and who pay for it regularly, at least during the dry season.
Therefore, the best way of measuring the number of beneficiaries is to check the water volume that is delivered everyday and then to calculate the number of customers, assuming that one person drinks about 1.5 liters of water per day. As of December 2011, 70,000 people benefit from this solution. 1001 fontaines long term objective is to reach 1 million beneficiaries by 2020.
Another important indicator is the number of water production sites which are self-sustainable after 2 years of activity. The break-even point is reached when at least 1,000 liters of water are distributed everyday.
Finally, the health impact of the solution, which is a crucial aspect of its efficiency, must be considered from a scientific perspective. This is why 1001 fontaines undertook to conduct an epidemiologic impact survey of its projects in Cambodia, of whih the outcome will be known at the end of 2012.
At the local level, 1001 fontaines solution is designed to meet the needs of rural villages where it is not possible to install a piped water system in the medium term, and where surface water is available (river, ponds, lake). This approach focuses on drinking water, which means very small volumes to treat every day (i.e. 2 liters/day/person), at a very low cost that even poor populations can afford. Making water delivery service accessible and developing entrepreneurship at the village level also make an impact on the socio-economic situation of beneficiary communities.
By experience, 1001 fontaines knows that governments and local authorities of developing countries might be interested in this solution to improve safe water access in rural areas while addressing the crucial issue of sustainability and local ownership.
At the national and international level, the way for further rollout and scaling-up requires financial investment to initiate the solution in different areas (once launched, each project is self-sustained after 18 to 24 months) as well as reliable and competent partners to undertake the solution locally.
It could also be envisioned to strengthen the economic model by making the initial investment fully refundable, i.e. each entrepreneur would be able to start a water treatment business through a credit scheme providing for a progressive refund. Such approach could be tested in countries like India or Bangladesh, where population density even in rural areas would allow much higher sales volumes in a similar selling radius. The initial investment could then be reimbursed from water sales, and growth investments would be facilitated.
1001 fontaines is a field-driven initiative. This means that even though a technical and economic model was set out on paper, the priority is given to lessons drawn from field experiences. Every new idea or methodology is tested and challenged in situ and it is important to maintain a broad vision and open mind to accept changes and adapt to local realities.
On the field, the level of skills among project teams is crucial. 1001 fontaines chose to build upon local strength and competences, which implies providing trainings and support in accordance with operational requirements, and take cultural specificities into account. Long-term capacity building measures are necessary to develop sustainable and effective project management.
Finally, involvement of local actors, particularly public authorities at both national and decentralized level, is another key to success. Access to safe drinking water is a matter of public health, which should be a responsibility of governmental authorities. 1001 fontaines recognizes that some developing countries should be assisted financially and technologically to realize development objectives. However commitment of local authorities should be encouraged at all stages of project implementation (assessing local needs, defining project perimeter, bringing together interested parties, etc.). This necessitates both political will among local authorities, and a global partnership-based approach on the part of NGOs and enterprises involved in development projects.
The 1001 fontaines solution is implemented in Cambodia since 2005, with support from local government and other organisations (Unicef, Agence Française de Développement, danone.communities, Fondation Accenture, Fondation Ensemble, Oxfam GB, etc.).
A similar intervention started in Madagascar in 2008, wupported by Unicef, Fondation Lemarchand, the Rotary Club, the French Ambassy in Madagascar, etc.
In 2012, new partnerships are taking shape to replicate the solution in other countries, particularly in India.
1001 fontaines continues to search for interested and willing partners to develop its solution and increase impact on populations’ health.
Contact person: Mr. François JAQUENOUD
Position: Co-founder and executive director of 1001 fontaines.
Tel: +33 6 12 11 08 23
1001 fontaines website: www.1001fontaines.com
The following link will help you rapidly understand 1001 fontaines core principles and objectives
–> video 1001 fontaines (6′): http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=FR&hl=fr&v=8bykbVECVrE
You can also watch a video portrait of 1001 fontaines co-founders made by Shamengo organization
–> video Shamengo (2′): http://shamengo.com/bonus/?lang=en&pioneer_id=832