Finally, a nonprofit talking about maintenance
Posted on March 3, 2011 at 11:04 am
I was very happy to see this blog post from charity: water talking about the need for maintenance.
“Four years ago, the accepted average lifespan of many of our water technologies was 20 years. Since then, charity: water — and the water sector as a whole — has been reevaluating what “sustainability” really means. We’ve always known that $20 per person covers the implementation of the water project on the ground. But we’re now unclear about how much it will cost to maintain our water projects over time; so we don’t want to continue to tell you (and ask you to tell your friends and supporters) that $20 can cover the cost of water for one person for 20 years.”
All too often projects are only funded for the actual building phase, and the maintenance needs are either disregarded or brushed under the carpet. Yet anyone that’s ever owned bicycle, car or house knows that if you don’t maintain it, problems get worse and repairs get more expensive. Imagine trying to drive a car for 20 years without doing any maintenance on it. Chances are you would have sent it to the junkyard years ago. Likewise, there are thousands of dead development projects dotted across the landscape of developing countries because nonprofits all too often just build, take pictures, and walk away.
The problem with lack of maintenance is so wide spread that one solar panel manufacturer I spoke with includes all the spare parts needed to maintain the panels for 10 years into the original purchase cost. They do this because nonprofits can raise funds to start a program but not to maintain it.
So here’s a shout out to charity: water for sharing the need to maintain the wells with your donors. And for changing your advertising to reflect this very real need. Now let’s see what we can do about educating the public about how administration costs are also a necessity.