Need for regular maintenance

The desalination facility is a system that requires regular maintenance because the water input from the facility’s water source contains sediment. There are filters inside the machines to strain the sediment, and these filters need to be regularly replaced. The machines also need to be turned on and operated to wash away the buildup of sediment – this happens when water regularly flows through the pipes, machines and filters.

Low water gallon sales mean low revenue and insufficient funds to buy the necessary filter replacements. Low sales also result in low production and more idle time at the production facility, allowing for the buildup of sediment which solidifies inside the pipes and machines. All of this puts the infrastructure at risk of malfunction and breakage.

During our visit, we also found problems with the management of the facility. There were no regular discussions among the management team about the operation of the business, and no tracking of expenditure and income of the business unit. We also didn’t see evidence of a sense of ownership by the management team or the community of the facility. For the management team, the business unit felt like a burden that they had been left with and it was only benefitting a small number of people, not the whole community.

The need for an urgent intervention

Having found all of these problems, we needed to take action to save the desalination facility and the business unit from falling apart and ensure that it would continue to operate and provide for the community’s water needs.

Rather than coming in with an intervention already planned, we asked the management team as well as the community what support they needed to improve the operation of the desalination facility. We found and partnered with a new business mentor, and together we identified the challenges and aspirations of the management team. Based on these, we designed a business training program for the business unit.

The business training module focused on creating open communication among the management team, creating a marketing strategy to promote the quality and safety of the water, and improving the overall business plan to ensure that the business can be profitable, provide salaries for the management team, and contribute to the community. The modules were delivered through active group discussions to ensure active participation – rather than one-way content delivery, and also included promotional support, management skill development, and bookkeeping skills.