Capital costs: the tools to accelerate change.


This September, we’re funding our first ever drilling rig. We want to take a minute to explain how this is a departure from what we usually do — fund programs to construct or rehabilitate individual water projects.

So while 100% of the money raised in September Campaign 2011 will still go toward water projects in the field, we’re doing what we’ve never done before: we’re using the funds to purchase drilling equipment instead of just paying for project construction.

Building capacity.

charity: water works with partners on the ground in developing countries because we believe that they are best equipped to fight the water crisis. They’re the experts; they know the land, the culture, the climate and how to overcome inevitable hurdles in development work.

Our Water Programs team works tirelessly to identify these programs of high quality — and then works with the organization to build their implementation capacity. So far, we’ve done this by funding existing programs. But now, we’re also helping our partners scale. That’s where capital costs come in.

On a smaller level, we’ve supported capital costs all along. But we usually divide them out across a large number of projects; so if you sponsored a freshwater well for $5,000, just a few dollars of this would go toward capital costs.

Here are some of the capital costs we’ve covered in the past:

cap costs list

After five years of work, we know our partners need larger capital investments from us to really move the needle. That’s why all the funds raised through this year’s September Campaign will fund capital costs; specifically, a drilling rig fleet.

The story behind the FS 250 drilling rig fleet.

This is charity: water’s first drilling rig. We’re serious about using the money you and other supporters raise for high-impact solutions in the field — so we’ve made sure to find the best rig suited for our local partners in Ethiopia, the Relief Society of Tigray (REST).

Enter the Fraste 250 (we call it the FS 250):


REST bought two similar drilling rigs from the Italian company Fraste in 2009, choosing them as the lowest bidder among eight competitors. By now, REST’s teams are fully trained to maneuver Fraste’s equipment over remote, rocky areas of northern Ethiopia and use them to find aquifers hundreds of feet underground.


Beyond their experience with Fraste, REST has 32 years of experience working in the Tigray region and an incredible team of expert drillers and hydrologists. They hope to achieve 100% clean water coverage in Tigray, and each new rig shortens the timeline to achieve this 100% goal.

Beyond taking REST’s drilling experience into account, charity: water also did an independent review of Fraste.

Founder and CEO Scott Harrison flew to Italy earlier this year to check out Fraste’s manufacturing and quality control process. Our Finance team also reviewed the rig’s cost to make sure the $1.2 million price tag was worth every dollar.

See the entire cost breakdown for the new drilling rig fleet and meet the new drill team here >

September is just the beginning.

We’re using 100% of what we raise through the September Campaign to purchase a drilling rig and equipment for our partners in northern Ethiopia. But this is just the start. Looking to the future, charity: water plans to support capital costs where appropriate. And as we’ve done with this year’s September Campaign, we’ll always let you know when your funds are going toward a large capital cost initiative.

Five years in, this September marks an exciting new chapter for us. We’re grateful to have received such a positive response among our supporters who’ve been quick to understand what it takes for us to scale our impact on the water crisis.

jerry can

More info about our drilling rig investment:

- September Campaign 2011 FAQ’s >
- September Campaign page, with cost breakdowns + current progress >
- Scott’s note from the field while visiting REST this summer >
- More about where we work and which partners we support >

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