The challenge of sustainability comes up in every single one of our projects. At Kopernik, we ask ourselves several questions before we commit to implementing a project: “What will happen once we finish this project?”, “Will it continue to run once we step away?”, “Who will continue to manage the project/intervention once we have finished?”
The last thing we want to happen is to have an expensive technology we used in a project abandoned and become junk in a community we worked in, because nobody knew how to use or maintain it, or there were insufficient funds to keep up with the operating costs. Or that the technology or intervention creates conflict within a community. When we installed a water desalination facility in Nusa Penida as part of the Waste for Water project, 1we also developed a follow-up plan to ensure the sustainability of the facility for the long term.
The original ‘sustainability’ plan was to establish a community-owned business unit as means to generate income and finance the ongoing operational costs of the desalination facility. With its capacity of producing 94 gallons of clean drinking water per day, we believed by establishing the facility as a community-owned business, the revenue generated would be sufficient to finance the ongoing operational costs of the facility, and provide a benefit to the whole community by providing access to clean drinking water. We worked with the community to establish a management team for the business unit, provided basic business management training to the management team and paired them with a mentor to support the day to day running of the business. We then left Nusa Penida once the business unit was set up and started to sell the desalinated, clean drinking water.