An Open Letter of Thanks to
The Pineapple Fund

Dear Pine,

Today, I’m writing to celebrate, thank you for and update you on the impact that your anonymous $1M investment of Bitcoin in late 2017 has made on those in need of clean water - and across The Water Project.

We’re a better, more sustainable, and faster growing organization because of your investment. By a most basic measure, thousands more people now have daily access to clean, safe water. More importantly, we’re operating in greater strategic impact than anytime in our organizational history, which means those same people, together with hundreds of thousands more, will benefit from more reliable and safer access to water for years to come.

I’m excited to share a bit of that story with you.

Over twelve years ago, I met Titus Kilu, a Kenyan community leader, and I offered my first personal gift in support of water projects in the area where he worked and lived. Titus’ response was unexpected. He didn’t lead with a heartfelt thank you. He didn’t note my generosity. He hardly acknowledged a transaction had taken place. Instead, he did something that would change my life and in the process lead to The Water Project ultimately being formed… he invited me to “come and see”. And while I had almost no interest in doing so on the evening we met, eventually a number of years later, I accepted his offer and witnessed the impact of this work first hand. From that first step closer toward this work, I knew that inviting people into the story of their generosity and the far reaching impact of providing clean water would lay at the center of all our efforts in building The Water Project. This letter is your invitation to know more and to step closer to the good being done every day, thanks to you.

Over the years we have honed our ability to share impact, providing verifiable and visible proof that water continues to flow, day after day, in the communities we serve. We do this while helping donors like you also understand the far-reaching impact this has on alleviating poverty, making food a more secure resource, fostering resilience to climate change, enabling and deepening educational opportunities, and providing hope that children can to lean into as they work toward a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. Your gift made countless, deeply personal, one-to-one impact possible for girls who before walked hours every day for water, and it continues to contribute in profound ways to enable the larger program-wide growth needed to saturate entire areas with new found hope.

Your impact - New Water Projects

The Pineapple Fund’s contribution immediately resulted in 37 new water projects across 3 program areas. The timing of these projects was especially significant - as your support sped up our ability to serve each of these communities and schools - some in imminent danger of shutting down due to a lack of water and sanitation.

Your support...

I want to invite you to explore each of these water projects through the stories, maps, and especially pictures of each one. As we do for every donor to The Water Project, we’ve created a unique report for each community water point. You have an opportunity to “come and see”, just as I did twelve years ago. I trust you will be as moved by the transformation happening in each of these places as I was and am.

Beyond these immediate and personal impacts, I want to also give you a glimpse of the wider breadth of impact your gift is having.

Your impact - Scale and Sustainability in Western Kenya

In 2018, because of your investment, we accelerated the launch of The Water Project Western Kenya Regional Service Hub located in Kakamega, Kenya (many of the water projects you have supported are in this region). The Regional Service Hub serves our network of partner NGOs, communities, schools, and government offices through four major areas:

  1. A water quality testing lab - unique outside of the one over-burdened government lab available.
  2. Networking with government offices and other local actors in water access, sanitation, and hygiene development.
  3. Quality control, supply chain management and parts storage
  4. Training center for regional WASH initiatives, including hand-pump and water point maintenance, Community Led Total Sanitation strategies, Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training, Participatory Rural Appraisals, and Self Help Group development.

We are currently in the second phase of development for the Regional Service Hub. The Water Quality Testing Lab is fully functional, enabling us to confirm water quality for five paraments after project implementation (each water project is required to meet WHO standards before the site is handed over to the community or school), and biannual testing.

We have also been able to coordinate with the Minister of Education to optimize our strategic intervention within the region by identifying schools that meet our criteria of need, location, and community involvement to provide the best possible sustainable outcome. Furthermore, we have been able to network with other NGOs to coordinate water access in schools with water filtration systems. Our next phase of development for the Regional Service Hub will include land acquisition for a permanent regional headquarters, which will enable bulk storage for high quality replacement parts, regular WASH (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene) training seminars, and a headquarters for maintenance dispatch to keep the water flowing year-round through The Water Project interventions.

Your impact - Iterative Innovation

We’ve learned over the past decade that the promise of clean, safe water is only true when water is available every day. Too many water projects lie broken and abandoned around the world, and ours would be no exception without our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program called “The Water Promise”. This unique approach to sustainability is changing expectations about water access in the places we work. And the impact of daily, verifiable access to water is dramatic.

Our model of transparency is simple. You see what we see. As we collect data from regular monitoring visits to our water projects, all of the results are made available as we receive them ourselves. This near-time reporting provides both accountability and proof to the broader water sector that providing truly sustainable results is possible. Your gift is allowing us to continue on a path of innovation in this area through some promising new technologies.

The SeeTell Pilot

The Water Project initiated the Western Kenya SeeTell pilot in February 2019. SeeTell (a product of the company SeeSaw) is an innovative approach to monitoring that allows users to report the functionality status of their water point using a mobile phone. The reporters are asked to call-in once per week, choosing from a list of phone numbers that corresponds to specific functionality statues (e.g., “water available, all is well,” “water available but low flow rate,” “water not available”). SeeTell utilizes a missed call reporting system so users that participate in the reporting program are never charged for their phone calls. Phone calls are logged in an online database where we can easily view the up-to-date functionality data. As the pilot evolves, this data will flow through to our online reports just as our current monitoring systems do.

The Water Project is committed to monitoring all of our water projects long-term. As we continue to grow, it will become increasingly difficult to perform in-person monitoring multiple times each year. SeeTell offers a unique opportunity to not only obtain crucial monitoring data throughout each year, between on-site visits, but also engages water users in the monitoring process. With SeeSaw, reporters are able to alert our repair teams as soon as breakdowns occur, helping us ensure that we’re fulfilling our commitment to the communities and schools that we serve. If the pilot is successful, we hope to expand the SeeTell program beyond Western Kenya in 2020.

Your Gift - We’re Not Done Yet

One of the most important questions you asked me before making your gift was one some might have considered odd… specifically, “Would this gift hurt The Water Project?”. It was both an insightful and empowering concern as we made some bold decisions about how we might best leverage your giving for the greatest possible good.

While we did make immediate, necessary and impactful investments as you’ve seen above, both at the community level and strategically, we also created a modest reserve account to fund a three-year strategic plan that will allow us to “grow into” the next phase of our organization. By leveraging your gift across 2018 and 2019 we are able to invest in the tools and people needed to sustainably raise another $1mil per year of incremental income beginning in 2021. In other words, we’re confident that your gift will last, returning potential to The Water Project year after year.

Furthermore, throughout the process of stewarding your gifts, we have identified new potential for scale that we are prepared to implement should the next $1mil gift materialize tomorrow. All while developing a clear path to organizational sustainability over time that we’re confident will result in dramatically increased scale as well. We are, in short, ready to move quickly, and we’re equipping for the long-term.

The Pineapple Fund’s goal was clearly to help organizations make some bold investments in their futures that would result in much greater good being possible than ever before. I can, with confidence, say that your mission is being achieved daily at The Water Project thanks to your initial investment.

We are forever grateful, along with hundreds of our colleagues across Africa, and the hundreds of thousands of people we are serving daily alongside you.

Thank you.

Peter Chasse