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A Strong Flow for Nigerian Safe Water Project

How Impact Water is making a splash in schools one drop at a time

Since last reporting on an issuance of 2022 vintage credits, First Climate’s project partner, Impact Water, has been gearing up for the next phase of its Gold Standard climate project using low GHG water treatment technologies in Nigeria. This project update is part of a developing informational series where First Climate will give readers an exclusive look into the company’s lighthouse projects featuring news, blog entries, and interviews.

Impact Water’s Safe Water project is making measurable climate impact and moving forward with its plans to increase access to safe drinking water for millions of students and staff at local schools across Nigeria. Initially started in 2014, Impact Water has seen the perpetual need for a reliable supply of clean water for school-age children. Uganda was the start-up location, and the developer later ramped up in Kenya and Nigeria in 2017. In Nigeria, where the population exceeds 200 million, the potential for scaling the project and creating extraordinary climate action impact is boundless.

“Project research states that less than 4% of the local educational facilities are attached to a public or private piped water system, and piped access also isn’t necessarily safe for drinking. This gap in access underscores the enormous need in the country, for an affordable flow of safe water – something that other areas of the world may take for granted as a basic accessible necessity. Our goal is to reach 100,000 schools and 40 million students by 2025.” – Evan Haigler, CEO of Impact Water

Currently, the Safe Water project includes over 40,000 public and private schools, of which nearly 95% still get their water supply from rudimentary sources. Another statistic states that less than 20% of the national population has access to safe water. Mark C. Turgesen, Director of Global Development at Impact Water, recently returned from a site visit goes on to explain:

"The dire situation of potable water in Nigeria cannot be overstated. It is our ongoing mission to bring reliable and affordable safe water solutions to developing countries, like Nigeria, where millions of students and their families lack access to water. Daily activities like drinking water and hand washing are hygienic and safe because of water purification technologies. We, and many others, recognized a critical need back then, which despite our success, is today still present.”

Expanding the pipeline of safe water

In the project area, most schools have hundreds of children, and the collective daily amount of water needed can neither be efficiently nor sustainably sanitized. This is where Impact Water’s cost-saving water purification systems, or WPS, step in and help balance out this void. A climate action and human rights project of this magnitude requires a well-coordinated schedule to install, train staff, and maintain. In the last quarter alone, more than 12,700 zero-emissions water filtration treatment systems were resupplied across seven Nigerian states.

These water filtration systems can be installed in any school, even ones without electricity or piped water, ensuring a sustainable solution for all.

Installing the systems is a tremendous first step in closing the clean water gap, but following up to ensure proper usage while also distributing the necessary treatment tabs or cartridges is an enormous undertaking. In 2023, more than 8,000 schools received replacement supplies for their water purification units. Responsible project management means contacting and coordinating with the school directly to plan maintenance, training, replacements, and new installations. Some 5,080 schools are slotted for upgrades to current systems, for example progressing from Ultraflo to Inline treatment systems. The Inline filters have greater treatment capacity and can be installed at ground level, making system monitoring and maintenance easier. To date, 57 technicians have been trained on the particular installation and care of inline filter systems as well as testing for possible residual chlorine in the water tanks. Beyond the new installations planned for Nigeria, nearly 200 field agents and technicians were trained for installation and distribution activities.

Workshops to build awareness about safe water

A key component of creating a cycle of change in the way students consume water is a safe water awareness campaign, which was extremely productive in 2023. Last year, Impact Water experts conducted in-school workshops at over 4,000 schools. The workshops provide a concrete way to teach students about the importance of clean water, how clean water affects health and learning, how to correctly dispense water from the purifiers at their schools, and how using these systems contributes to climate action. Later this year, the developer plans to expand these awareness workshops to 1,200 schools in the regions of Niger, Combe and Kuduna.

First Climate is proud to share the lastest developments with its lighthouse projects, where engaging interviews and compelling photos will bring project activities to life for our readers. Stay tuned for more news from our project areas worldwide.

Q & A with Impact Water CEO, Evan Haigler

Evan Haigler, CEO of Impact Water

How do you manage an international project of this scale (post pandemic)? What are 2 main challenges? What have you had to modify? Daily work, monitoring, maintenance, etc.?

Post-pandemic, Impact Water has recognized the need to visit all partner schools in person to ensure school leadership, which frequently changes, is aware of our partnership. We’ve launched a Letter of Commitment that all schools read, discuss with us, and sign, to better define our respective roles and responsibilities, and to affirm our shared commitment to the human right to safe drinking water and the students in their school.

The in-person school visits for over 40,000 schools across three counties has necessitated large changes in the social venture’s organization structure, which now has over 400 part-time Field Agents and over 25 new full-time Field Coordinators that train, support and supervise the national Field Agent networks. These investments are significantly helping to address the challenge of staff changes at schools as well as awareness, knowledge and motivation to use our systems correctly and consistently.

How do you identify new partner schools?

How has the digital SMS campaign supported your goals?

Which project benefits do the carbon credits enable?

About Impact Water

Impact Water (IW) is led by a dedicated global team, based in the U.S., and multinational teams in its 3 country offices in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria. The team includes entrepreneurs, development practitioners, social scientists, marketeers, and project managers by training, who are deeply committed to what they do. Before Impact Water launched in Uganda, boiling was often the only tool schools had to make drinking water safe for their students. Schools struggled with the cost of firewood as well as the hours lost to the chore of boiling water. Affordable water purification strategies were largely absent in the market, which inspired Impact Water to innovate a new approach. Impact Water installed the first water purification system in Uganda in 2013. Impact Water now aims to make universal coverage of safe drinking water systems a reality in schools across Africa.



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