The water project in Nigeria represents the HUMAN Foundation’s biggest challenge to date. We would like to explain the reasons in this article.
First the good news: the construction project with the drilling of the well, the construction of the filling hall and the entire interior work with three sachet filling systems, the installation and commissioning of the photovoltaic system, the purchase of two trucks and the hiring of 22 employees for the operation has been completed . An immense effort in a 14-month project period.
We are also able (technically and organizationally) to produce 20,000-25,000 liters of pure drinking water every day in the dry season. This is great and on average 80,000 to 100,000 liters per week are possible in the mid-term. This only works because we have now installed a third filling system.
That all sounds very positive, so what are the challenges?
During the construction and installation phase we had to overcome some technical difficulties and critical moments. The reason for this was the lack of experience of the “solar experts” on site. We had to subsequently install some electrical safety components and were lucky that there was no major damage (beside additional expenses of around 5,500 USD). The functionality and protection of the photovoltaic system is now excellent. We have already produced 90 kW of electricity per day and even more is possible.
The second area of issues is customer acquisition and transport routes. The competition has become bigger and therefore the delivery area has to be expanded in terms of distance. We are new to the market and have to gain our status first. That is why we sell the water at a cheaper price than the competitors. But we need the full revenue in order to be able to buy materials, cover travel costs and pay employees fairly and to be able to give away water. We need a third truck, otherwise the working hours for the drivers will be too long. All of this will take time, but it must succeed in the next 18-24 months.
The third challenge is economic and fiscal development in Nigeria. The prices for a number of products have risen, some drastically. The price of diesel has increased by almost 60% and material costs for production by 40%. A large part of the population is affected. Food has also become much more expensive.
The inflation rate rose from 15% to 27% in 18 months. Unfortunately, the water price was increased very late. The “Water Union” recently set a higher minimum sales price, but we are not yet able to take full advantage of it because we are new to the market. However, what is once again affected is the population who cannot afford higher water prices anyway. In this respect, our approach of giving away 20-25% of the water is perfect for poor families.
Then there are the everyday small and medium inadequacies that are due to the mentality and attitude of the people in Nigeria and the dilapidated infrastructure. Elsewhere, many positive things are happening again that are no longer possible in Germany, e.g. repairs of trucks or equipment that are broken.
But there is also fear, resentment and lies. Without going into details, we unfortunately have to realize that other water manufacturers are trying to make us bad. We get baseless reports, police officers are bribed, and truck drivers are stopped. It is being circulated that our water is not good, which is proven not to be the truth. We recently had our water tested again by the health authority. It has a very high quality.
To make matters worse, on Monday, November 6th, 2023, one of our drivers had a serious accident with the truck. The driver had to go to the hospital. We will do everything we can to ensure the driver returns to full health.
We will continue to deal with these adverse circumstances throughout the next 18-24 months and will still have to contribute financial resources, before the water factory can become self-sustaining. Our excellent water quality benefits us. The pre-filtered water in the external tanks are already below all health-critical values required by the health authorities (NAFDAC).
In the future, we can safely give away the pre-filtered well water alongside a defined amount of packaged water. Today, the needy people mostly drink contaminated water collected from rooftops or use water from nearby ponds. We can drastically improve this situation for many people.
Conclusion: We have made a giant step forward without having yet reached our goal. The stable production of water is extremely important; now we still have to make a breakthrough on the delivery and customer side. Everyone involved in Germany and Nigeria is working flat out on the project; the load limit is reached or exceeded on several days a month. This will not work in the long term, but we are confident that we are gradually getting closer to our goal.
We thank you from the bottom of our heart for your loyal support.
This video gives the best impression of the project. Duration 10 minutes.