Ethical dilemma: what would you do?

Your club has a long-standing relationship with a poor rural community. The community has recently self-identified a need for sustainable water filters to be installed in homes to provide safe drinking water for families. A member of your club owns a company that mass-produces water filters at a low cost. Through this connection, your club could afford to import 100 filters. However, your community liaison gently suggests that your club purchase filters from a local company since it employs local people. If you choose this option, the cost per filter will be twice as much, and your club will only be able to provide 50 families with safe water.

What do you do? Share using the comment feature below.

Author: rotaryservice

The Rotary Service Connections blog helps Rotarians plan effective and inspired service projects. If you have questions, comments, or story recommendations, contact us at rotary.service@rotary.org

12 thoughts on “Ethical dilemma: what would you do?”

  1. Provide 100 at the minimum cost. Are we saving lives or providing employment? That should have been clear when deciding on the project. I would ask why the local filters are so expensive and offer our club member expertise to make them more competitive – that raises another ethical question if he will be prepared to give up some of his business in the future or offer to set up a local company using his business model.

  2. Besides whether we are talking about the same product. The village chief must be contacted. To be sure of this situation, there must be some liaison between the clubs to ensure that it will be sustainable.

    There is no good answer here. It must be up to the Board of Directors to decide iif it is fair and beneficial.

  3. Great question. I facilitiate a class on ehtics – in my opinion, the only answer is to have all parties with an interest sit down and discuss what is best for all concerned.

  4. This isn’t even an ethical question. The accountant’s answer would be “If you want to protect your ethical values, let fifty families drink and cook with unfiltered water.”
    And then who decides _which_ 50 get filtered water? Not a Rotary answer.
    There’s a way to go before then. Sustainability, Durability, Quality Control, back to sustainability. Will the water still be filtered in 5 years time? Really?
    In the first two responses I’ve seen, there’s at least 2 good ideas so far, and at least one terrible one.

  5. Go for the maximum benefit to the community which needs water…forget about giving employment. There is no ethics involved it’s a straight forward decision.
    Tho

  6. What is beneficial to the community at large is a suitable project. Save [more] money and serve [more] people should be our Rotary goals.

  7. This service project would most likely be partially funded by a matching District Grant. The application will state the number of beneficiaries, which, in this case, should be estimated at 100, because that is possible. Expecting a match award, the Club may purchase 100 filter assemblies locally.

  8. I personally feel they should purchase the materials locally and that should ensure viability of the project by having the local supplier on location to solve any problems with installation as well as in the future. Sustainability is the key to this question

  9. Marge Lamberte Rotary Club Paranaque Metro D3830
    Facilitate a decision analysis meeting, where the community sets their own Musts and Wants criteria and let them evaluate the two alternatives against set criteria. After tentative choice is made, do risk analysis. Price tag is not the only consideration, after- sales service could be important to the community. It also prevents conflict of interest situations. It would have been easy to just get the member to supply, but to have a community-owned decision is a better option.

  10. Not enough information to make a decision. Is the source of the cheaper water filters manufacturing them ethically ( not using child labour/ paying a fair wage/ environmentally friendly). There is a reason for the disparity in price that needs to be understood further before a decision can be made. Helping someone by taking advantage of others does not meet the 4-way test.

  11. Does “poor rural community” equate to homes having or not having water sytems already installed? Would it be possible to establish communal water facilites which could serve 2 (or more) families per water tap/filter, hence 100 families (or more) with clean water. Sustainability for all? What is the voice of the community/elders echoing?

  12. Good health comes first b4 any other thing. It is those with good health that would be employed in the local company. Rotary can approach the local company to support or partner with the project by supplying the filters at a discounted rate in other to have upto 70 or 80 filters for the projct (better than the 50)

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