Sometimes fairy tales lead to nightmares

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Executive Director

Last week, at a conference organized by college students, I spoke about lessons learned in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). One of the key points was that “it’s not about the project.”  The WASH sector is plagued by fragmented approaches and one-off projects. Small projects don’t have much of a chance of achieving systemic change, even at the community level. Yet many groups treat water projects like romantic movies – replacing the wedding with the ribbon cutting or photo shoot for the water point at the end of the project.  The caption under the photograph of the cute kids drinking clean water might as well say: “And then they lived happily ever after.”

happily ever afterBut still high percentages of water systems fail, latrine pits fill up or aren’t used at all, and very few people continue to wash their hands regularly after the program…

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