The Guts of Sustainability
The guts of sustainability are the things that we absolutely need to create buy-in. It's having 5 meetings to go over something you could have just done yourself. It's coaching in lieu of doing. It's subjecting yourself to the tortoise when the hare seems infinitely more glorious. We absolutely have to sacrifice our North American hunger for productivity. This means that we must be willing to take eighteen months do execute a project instead of pushing through to make it happen in six. We believe to our core that 20 sustainable projects in the next 10 years is better than 100 broken systems.
In order to ensure sustainability, we have to be exceptional at the social-engineering part of a clean water project. Ultimately, if the community doesn't feel empowered and equipped to maintain a water solution, the system will fail. Sure, the technology in third world countries is old and simple. But that's not the problem. The problem lies in whether or not the community itself will own the project when we walk away. The questions we have to ask are these:
- Have they spent their own dollars?
- Have they sacrificed the blood and blisters from shovels and breaker bars?
- Have they been through the bureaucracy of their local government to ratify an official Water & Sanitation Committee?
- Has the Water and Sanitation Committee been properly trained in how to manage a bank account and execute simple accounting?
- Is there a maintenance employee or team ready to spring into action when something breaks?
If we can answer yes to all of these questions, we know the investment will be sustainable. These my friends, are the guts of sustainability, the key to a project for which we can hope to hear those blessed words, well done, good and faithful servant.