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Safe Water System Manual

Assemble team to do the project


  • Consider possible roles of government, NGOs and the private sector for this project
  • Identify potential donors, implementers, and evaluators

  • Select a core team to do the project
  • Establish a management committee
  • Add to the team later, according to need and interest

Roles of government, NGOs and the private sector

Implementing a business-like project is usually outside the scope of government services and is better done by the private sector or an NGO. Even when government is not involved in the implementation, its support of the project and collaboration with non-governmental organizations remains critical. Government involvement can provide credibility and strengthen implementation by offering access to government resources, and promoting the project through existing public health networks.

Projects implemented by NGOs require government support, donor funding, and motivated, well-trained staff with good technical back up. Non-local NGOs also need a plan for eventually turning the project over to local institutions.

The private commercial sector often has the capability to provide high quality products, an efficient distribution system, and marketing through advertising.

Partnerships of private and public sectors aim to involve the private sector from the start in a commercially viable operation that makes products widely available at affordable prices. The process aims to ensure success with market research, a marketing strategy and a promotional campaign and involves the following steps:

• forming partnerships between donor, NGO, public and private sector partners

• developing consumer-oriented market research

• developing a marketing strategy including a business plan, monitoring and evaluation

• producing/procuring materials

• launching and monitoring a promotional campaign

• expanding project to additional groups and areas


NGO involvement focuses on complementing and expanding the reach of the commercial sector during the market development phase and concentrates later on the poorest populations who are unable to procure products through the private sector.

Consider a range of possible organizations for a range of roles:

Product registration and certification: Roles for the Ministry of Health are to register and certify the products, give their seal of approval, provide existing data, collect epidemiological information, and assist with promotion of the project. Include representatives from Ministry of Health water/environmental departments and from diarrheal disease control staff.

Data on water coverage: A key role for the government ministries responsible for water is to provide information on populations, their water sources, and quality of water sources. Depending on the division of responsibilities in the government, they may also have a role in certifying products and monitoring water quality.

Donors: Possible donors include USAID, World Bank, non-governmental organizations, foundations, bilateral and multilateral donors, Rotary Club or other service organizations, and the private sector. Consider trying a sponsorship program with a private company in which the company buys "advertising," for example, paying to put logo on water vessel. Local government/municipalities may share some costs and health workers.

Importation of supplies: Organizations with tax-free status, such as embassies, donor and UN agencies, can help save money through customs duty waivers if supplies need to be imported. Rotary and Lions Clubs may be able to advise about import procedures.

Implementation: Implementers' roles include production, behavior change, promotion, education, sales, and distribution. Possible implementers include non-governmental organizations such as Population Services International (PSI) and CARE, private business (such as bottle manufacturers), municipalities, and workers at public health clinics. Organizations with experience with Safe Water System projects include PAHO (in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador), PSI (in Bolivia, Zambia, Madagascar), and CARE (in Kenya, Madagascar).

Distribution: Potential outlets for distribution of products may include health facilities, hospitals, shops, supermarkets, church groups, schools, cooperatives, community groups and local companies. Government, non-government or commercial organizations that distribute medical supplies may assist with distribution. (See step 6.0.)

Storage: Local companies, NGOs, and government offices may be able to provide secure storage space for supplies or space for disinfectant production.

Training: Suitable trainers may be found in the Ministry of Health, universities, development agencies, or non-government organizations.

Behavior change: An NGO that specializes in behavior change through social marketing may be available to design a strategy and materials for promotion and education. It may also provide workers to carry out particular tasks such as developing a brand name and logo, designing promotional posters and other materials, and organizing a kick-off event.


Universities are another potential source for theoretical and practical information about behavior change methods.

Advertising agencies may be employed to do marketing research with the implementing agency and help design promotional campaigns and materials. Some may donate services or discount their rates for a public service project.

Promotion: Health facilities and workers can promote use of Safe Water System products. Other organizations, such as schools, community groups, and drama groups, can be involved in education and promotion. Local media may give space to promotional and educational messages. Advertising agencies are expert in promoting products.

Educational materials: Behavior change expertise, health education expertise and facilities for producing educational and promotional materials may be available from the Ministry of Health, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations, advertising agencies, or private business.

Evaluation: Social scientists from universities and from government can help to design community, participatory, or operational research on aspects of implementation. Help in designing evaluation and monitoring or help collecting data may be available from local universities, medical schools, NGOs, and local health departments. International agencies or universities may help with external evaluations.

Although coordination with various organizations is more time-consuming than working alone, the advantages of this approach include:

• potential to reach different groups in the community through different channels

• access to diverse skills and resources

• greater likelihood of sustainability. The chances of sustainability increase if a project has support from a broad range of organizations and is integrated into existing local structures. Existing community structures and committees are more likely to survive in the long run than those established specifically for a project.

Consider staffing needs for the project. Review activities planned. Decide what type of staff will be required for each activity and estimate how much time will be needed. For example:

• Research will require a trained researcher to assist with design, planning and analysis, and field workers to collect data.

• Behavior change, education and promotion will require special materials, an artist to develop posters, field workers to pretest messages and materials, trainers for field workers and door-to-door promoters, someone to work with community drama groups.

• Production will require a technician to set up production, train production staff, and supervise quality. It will also require production staff to run and maintain equipment, bottle the disinfectant, and keep records of production.

• Distribution and sale will require staff to provide information, demonstrate water treatment, and record sales activities.

• Management and administration will require staff for tasks such as stock-keeping, financial control, procurement of supplies, training, supervision, analysis of monitoring data and writing reports.

Select a core group of organizations to work on the project. Then establish a project management committee composed of representatives of the organizations. When several organizations are involved in implementing a project, each with different roles, it is important to have a management committee to oversee and coordinate.

In Madagascar, for example, the team included:

Social marketing implementation:

Community mobilization:



Overall management:

Behavior change:

Distribution and Sale:
Catholic Relief Services
Commercial sector

Product Certification:
Ministry of Mines

Mayor of Antananarivo


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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