Improving Water Sanitation in Rural Africa

How can we scale the goals of a small-scale humanitarian project to create change on a global scale?
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One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is meeting the water and sanitation needs of present and future generations while sustaining a thriving planet. WellDone, a San Francisco-based non-profit, is empowering communities in the developing world to sustainably build and manage their own water and sanitation resources through design communications campaigns that drive community involvement, sustainability, and scalability.


WellDone started in 2007 with a simple goal – to drill one well in one village in Ghana. At that time, there were no strategic plans, no corporate sponsors, and no administrative burdens. They began through the simple commitment of a group of friends pooling their time and talents to provide clean water for those who need it most. Since then, they’ve funded 99 clean water projects across Africa and South Asia through a series of events, partnerships, and viral media campaigns – expanding in geographic focus, breadth of solutions, and diversity of supporters.

ChangeLabs worked with WellDone to launch a new, media communications project addressing sanitation and hygiene taboos, activating communities to transform their sanitation practices, and raising public awareness of the global water crisis. 

Impact Goals

The main goal of the project was to assist WellDone in designing the concepts, strategies, and tangible interventions (including needed technologies, services, and innovative programs), to transform water sanitation in rural communities across Africa, as well as to design a media communications campaign to inform communities. The aim was to ultimately create a heightened sense of visibility about the issues, and help improve personal and community sanitation habits in rural communities worldwide.

ChangeLabs also assisted WellDone in: 

1. Setting practical, do-it-yourself sanitation techniques and reward schemas to encourage a sense of community belonging. 

2. Setting a global viral campaign to shed light on the global water sanitation crisis, break down sanitation myths, and rally the world around this cause.


A team was asked to look at successful water sanitation programs (including water purification techniques, hygiene education, reducing open defecation) in the developing world.

The team looked at best-in-class practices to spread information and ignite behavior change in developing countries. The team also assessed locally available technologies and how they could be leveraged, as well as theories of behavior change and human psychology.

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