UNC Water and Health Conference Event: Resources to Keep the Water Flowing

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Executive Director with research support from Lydia Prokosch

Keep the water flowing side eventAt the UNC Water and Health conference last week, Improve International hosted an event called Keep the Water Flowing. We highlighted the various types of post-construction support, results and costs. Below are links to the presentations:

We also shared several resources, links to which are provided below by theme.

The Case for Post-Construction Support

Guidelines for Resolution of Problems with Water Systems.

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Summary of RWSN D-groups discussion on resolution

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Executive Director

Resolution coverFor two weeks in March, our friends at the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) let me lead a discussion on resolution of problems with water systems through the Sustainable Services D-group. Resolutionis the process of addressing problems identified through monitoring and/or evaluation. It goes by many names, and is sometimes part of post-construction support.

I appreciate those who contributed to the discussion: organizations working in Chad, Congo, Ghana, Nepal, and Uganda. Following is a summary of responses to some questions I posed.

Q1. Has your organization ever conducted post-implementation (post-project) monitoring?

This question was a bit tricky because the responding organizations support monitoring at a district or national level, or they monitor water points that they didn’t necessarily help to build or repair. This is a good reminder that not everyone is simply building hardware. However, all of the responding groups monitor water management…

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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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Predictors of non-functionality for community-managed handpumps: a simple summary of Foster’s analysis

Great summary

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Executive Director

This is a summary of a useful study by Tim Foster.  It was actually titled “Predictors of Sustainability for Community-Managed Handpumps in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda,” but as usual I find the reasons for failure useful to share.

Failed water point near Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. We were told the borehole collapsed (credit Susan Davis, July 2012) Failed water point near Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. We were told the borehole collapsed (credit Susan Davis, July 2012)

The study was published in 2013, but I’ve found that some people who are interested in this kind of rigorous analysis have not heard of it.  So I’ve summarized the findings below, in plain English. If you prefer the statistical language please see the original paper.

Where did the data come from?

  • Comprehensive water supply inventories were created by the governments of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Uganda, with the support of development partners.
  • All three inventories were nation-wide and have technical, institutional…

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MEMBER NOTICE BOARD/PANNEAU D’AFFICHAGE DES MEMBRES: December 2014

Improve International: Guidelines for Resolution of Problems with Water Systems Resolution is the process of addressing problems with water systems or toilets. Such problems are often identified during monitoring or evaluation after a project. Resolution reflects the concept that the organizations that are made aware that water systems or toilets they built aren’t working are … Continue reading MEMBER NOTICE BOARD/PANNEAU D’AFFICHAGE DES MEMBRES: December 2014

Resolution of Problems with Water Systems

More good analysis:

Improve International

By Susan M. Davis, Executive Director

Resolution is the process of addressing problems identified through monitoring and/or evaluation. The term reflects the concept that NGOs have responsibility to respond when finding water systems that are non-functional or need major repair. There is resounding agreement in the sector that rural communities in developing countries need some sort of support beyond installation of water infrastructure. A summary of key points is below. More information regarding typical failures, responsibilities, models, and costs will be presented in the “Resolution Action Report” being prepared by Improve International, as well as the WASH Advocates Monitoring, Evaluation, Resolution & Learning (MERL) portal (under development).

The problem

Average failures calculated from 125+ statistics Average failures calculated from 125+ statistics

The overall global water point failure rate has hovered around 40% since the 1990s. Furthermore, many systems that are considered “functioning” are not providing safe water around the clock. This represents a vast waste of…

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How much water is enough? Determining realistic water use in developing countries

Excellent thoughts on water quantities – how much is enough?

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Executive Director, Improve International

Water from a handpump in KenyaHow much water do you use every day? If you live in the US, you probably don’t think about it much, even if you pay for what you use.  Do you know how much water people in developing countries use?  A lot less than Americans, for sure.  But exactly how much turns out to be quite variable.

I thought it would be helpful to share the results of a desk review we did on water quantities measured or reported in developing countries.  The most comprehensive data referenced in studies comes from the Drawers of Water study (White, Bradley, & White, 1972), the first large-scale assessment of domestic water use in Africa, and Drawers of Water II (IIED et al, 1997); however, both are outdated and distinguish only between piped and unpiped water systems.

Not surprisingly, people are likely to use more…

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