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Safe Water System Manual

3.0 Write a proposal to donors for a Safe Water System PROJECT



  • Study this manual to become familiar with the components of a Safe Water System project and the activities involved

  • Study the background information gathered in step 1.0

  • Become informed about potential donors and the type of proposal they will need
  • Draft the proposal using all available information and current plans. Refer to Annex B for guidance, and other references and contacts
  • If a detailed proposal will be required, continue with planning and decisions as described in this manual until sufficiently detailed plans are developed to put into the proposal

Every country's resources for health and development are limited. It is crucial that each country use its own and donated resources in ways that will have the greatest benefit. It is unwise to invest in projects that are unsustainable or that provide little real benefit. Therefore, before deciding to undertake a Safe Water System project, decision makers must realistically assess the work and resources required and the likely benefits of the project.



Figure 3: Example Outline for a Proposal

Application Form for Health Grant Program Project Description

Core Elements

A. Title of project

B. Summary: Include project location(s), project staff, contact persons, target population, duration, budget

C. Introduction: Describe background on the country/region water situation and overview of the project

D. Problem statement: Specify the problem and its causes, needs assessments, rational for project

E. Project description: List goals and objectives, process and impact indicators, main activities

F. Operational plan: Propose specific intervention strategies, how the Ministry of Health, communities and other agencies will actively participate

G. Project management: Indicate staffing required, management structure and lines of communication, physical requirements and purpose

H. Monitoring and evaluation: Specify information systems, baseline studies if any, timing of evaluation, reporting and feedback system, role of partners in monitoring and reporting

I. Budget

Supplementary Elements

J. Innovative aspects of the proposal

K. Capacity building to be achieved

L. Sustainability

M. Leveraging/multiplier potential for additional funding beyond this donor.


Usually a proposal will describe details of the major components of the project, such as the water vessels and disinfectant, how they will be produced or obtained, and plans for distribution, education of households, promotion, monitoring and evaluation, and a budget. Therefore, you would need to complete the decisions and plans described in steps 4.0 - 8.0 (that is, plans for assembling a team for the project, the products, method of distribution, strategy for behavior change, and cost recovery) in order to write the complete proposal. It is also important to know the likely level of funding to make realistic plans.

In some situations, however, a donor will give funds based on a general plan; the proposal could be written and submitted earlier and the detailed planning can be accomplished when funds are available and the project team is working. In this case, you will need to study the rest of this manual to learn about Safe Water System projects before writing the proposal, but would not need to make all the decisions described until afterwards.

Some countries have a clear need for a Safe Water System project, a promise of funding, and an infrastructure suitable for distribution of the products and education of users. Some countries have only one or more of these building blocks and must obtain the missing elements. It may be necessary to investigate the need for a project and the best target area. It may be necessary to investigate whether the project may make use of an existing infrastructure or will need to build one. If there is clear need and infrastructure, the project team will need to do research on the most feasible approaches, and then estimate funding needed.

It may be necessary to investigate to find donors and estimate the possible levels of funding. Perhaps the most feasible option is to identify NGOs with a water or health focus that are working in the target population, and try to work with them in developing a proposal. Some donors that have supported Safe Water System projects are listed on the next page:



United Nations agencies:

Government agencies:

Non-governmental organizations:
Bibosi Institute
Population Services
Project Concern International
Rotary International

Private sector:
Coca Cola Foundation
Equipment and Systems Engineering
Exceltech International Corp
Los Alamos Technical Associates
Millipore Foundation
Procter and Gamble
Western Union
Woodruff Foundation

Some proposals are written with great uncertainty about funding. In this situation, you will need to investigate the options described in steps 5.0-8.0 and get estimates of what the different options might cost in your country or area. The extent of the target area (number of households targeted) could also vary. You may then write a proposal that describes a project with certain parameters and funding required, or you may describe different options that are possible at different funding levels.

It is often easier to get a small amount of money rather than fund a large project. It may be possible to target specific donors for certain aspects of the project that appeal to them. In this way, you may be able to piece together several donations into one complete project. In Bolivia, for example:

• Rotary International and the Procter and Gamble Fund purchased a mold to produce the vessel

• Exceltech International donated a hypochlorite generating machine

• USAID donated money for implementation activities

• Bolivian municipalities and NGOs subsidized the distribution of vessels and disinfectant solution to impoverished villages.


Where funding for a large project is unlikely, it may be possible to fund (for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars) a regional conference to review the situation in the district, region or country. A local university may agree to host the conference, and potential donors would be invited. The working group from the meeting may outline a modest proposal and seek money for a demonstration project. When a small demonstration project is funded and implemented, the working group gains expertise, self-confidence and credibility. Funding for the next stage is then easier to obtain.

Annex B provides guidance on points to address in a project proposal. Before the proposal-writing team begins to write a proposal, they should:

• study this manual to become familiar with the components of a Safe Water System project and the activities involved

• study the background information gathered in step 1.0

• identify potential donor organizations that fund this type of project

• meet with potential donors to determine their interests and needs; if you are reasonably sure that they are interested, find out as much as possible about the type of proposal and the level of detail they will need

• estimate the level of funding to request


Then the team can draft the proposal using available information and formulating plans as progress is made. If a detailed proposal will be required, the project team will continue with planning and decisions as described in this manual until sufficiently detailed plans are developed for the proposal.

In Madagascar and Kenya, some communities were implementing CARE community mobilization projects. When people in those communities identified improved water quality as a priority need, project personnel applied for funding from the CARE CDC Health Initiative for a household Safe Water System project. The Safe Water System activities were able to build on the community interests and resources already in place. They received the funding.

In Ecuador, some hypochlorite generating machines were present in the country but were not in use. When El Nino disrupted the water supply and many families were left without safe drinking water, this disaster presented an opportunity to look for funding to train staff and put the existing equipment into use. Funding was obtained initially from the Embassy of the Netherlands, and was then augmented by USAID, and the project was successfully implemented in 5 provinces to relieve disaster conditions. Good results and the recognition that the country had insufficient potable water coverage led the Ministry of Public Health to create a National Program for Household Water Disinfection.

In Peru, a donation was obtained from an NGO for a pilot project, and then a loan was secured for an expanded project.

In Zambia and Bolivia, small field trial studies were conducted to determine if the household use of disinfectant and special water storage vessels could improve water quality and decrease diarrhea. When these proved successful, PSI wrote proposals to USAID for funding small pilot social marketing projects in discrete regions of the country, and USAID funded these projects.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Infectious Diseases
Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases
Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch


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