News 2012

The MMG Sepon water project: A successful private-private partnership development initiative

In Oct 2011, Sunlabob successfully completed the installation and implementation of clean water solutions and community development to villages in Savannakhet Province, Laos, as part of a water project developed by MMG Sepon.

In 2010, MMG Sepon undertook detailed research of community development needs based on results of regular household survey work. The research identified 12 villages in the priority development area requiring community development support, and better water quality and sanitation as a priority need. The water resources for these villages were poor; suffering from scarcities and/or quality concerns in the dry season, silting in the wet season and/or being located too far away from the villagers to be collected by hand.

To eradicate these issues, Sunlabob installed water supply systems in the villages with the objective of providing comfortable access and improved water sources to the villagers. A combination of water tanks, solar water pumps, solar generators and water distribution systems including the piping; water tap stations, bio-sand filters (BSF) and other piping features were installed. A new improved borehole was also constructed in each village so as to enable the extraction of best quality water. The project grants 5000 villagers access to clean water with 4- 6 water access point per village.

This project is an excellent example of a successful private-private partnership initiative in the development field. The advantages of this private-private partnership approach over conventional solutions are that sustainability of quality is achieved by the combination of community funds to ensure that the systems are well maintained, technical and operational support from Sunlabob, and overall project development and management from MMG Sepon.

The collaboration also results in a win-win-win situation for all parties involved. MMG Sepon successfully implemented a community development project as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility objectives, Sunlabob provided sustainable renewable energy solutions to a rural area as part of its corporate mission, and villagers have access to safe and affordable water.

Sunlabob believes that private-private partnerships could be the new way forward as compared to public-private partnerships. With more than 10 years of experience in rural development, Sunlabob has found several challenges associated with public-private partnerships. Governments do not prioritize, and allocate little or no capacity and resources to work on clean drinking water projects for the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in remote areas. Therefore nobody invests in the public interest to ensure quality water services at the BOP can emerge. In such a partnership, the private actor cannot invest 100% due to very high risks in least developed countries and very low buying power of villagers.

It is understood that private actors are influential in the progress of a developing countries as they can influence policy making at national and international level. Private-private partnerships offer the opportunity to present different interests in the process of rulemaking and integrate policy enforcement.