08 OCTOBER 2019 / An Εntrepreneurial Model for Clean Water in Madagascar

In Madagascar, one of the world’s poorest countries, 72% of those in rural areas lack access to clean water and diarrheic diseases are one of the leading causes of death. France-based organization 1001fontaines seeks to help address this by equipping local entrepreneurs on board to meet their communities’ needs.

Working on the east coast of the island of Madagascar, 1001fontaines seeks to support sustainable, distributed water supply systems by recruiting and training local entrepreneurs to run “Water Kiosks,” which the organization constructs. These local Malagasy partners pump water from an available source, filter and disinfect it, fill and seal large jugs, and deliver them to customers in the area. Customers pay a small amount for the clean water delivered, with the idea that the long-term viability of the program is best ensured by helping each operation become economically self-sustaining. In villages with a Water Kiosk, free water is delivered daily to the local primary schools.

In 2013, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation made a grant to support the phase two of 1001fontaines’ work in Madagascar, which began in 2014. In the five years since, the program has achieved the goals it set out. Eighteen new Water Kiosks have been constructed in the Malagasy regions of Analanjirofo and Atsinanana in addition to the seven already in operation there, and these now collectively serve tens of thousands of people. A local NGO, Ranontsika, was established as a platform to support implementation of the program, and a new Social Entrepreneur Program helps those involved in the operation build valuable skills.

Though health is a key focus, the program is designed to extend positive impacts into other areas of life. In studies in Cambodia, 1001fontaines found significant declines in student absences from schools where the program was delivering clean water. The home delivery model is designed help women avoid having to waste time collecting water. The program also creates livelihoods for the entrepreneurs who collect, purify, and deliver the water, while also participating in professional development through the Social Entrepreneur Program.

1001fontaines, established in 2004, is currently at work in Cambodia and India, in addition to Madagascar.