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How Community Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Education Projects Work

TYPES OF WATER PROJECTS


There are a number of types of water projects -- the main distinction is the source of the water.


Surface water from springs or rivers may be available. If it is clean spring water, then it can be captured and piped to a community water tap. If it is not (usually water from a stream or lake is not), then the water can be treated. Surface water is typically a sustainable source of water.


Ground water may be available. If the water table is close to the surface, a shallow well may be drilled or even hand dug. The difficulty is that small changes in the water table are common and may leave the community without any water supply. Also, shallow wells depend on water near the surface, which may be contaminated or may become contaminated unless the wells are carefully constructed and the surface overlying the shallow groundwater is protected from contamination.


Deep wells are less likely to become contaminated or be subject to fluctuations in the water table. However, they are expensive. Also, the rate at which the deep aquifer is recharged by water from the surface may be considerably less than the water withdrawn by the well. Withdrawals in excess of recharge are not sustainable over the long term.


In many areas, there is plentiful rainfall during the wet season, but insufficient rainfall during the dry season. Solutions as simple as concrete cisterns or small sand dams may be used to store rainwater or surface water for later use. Rainfall harvesting off of buildings and storage in containers can be used for both drinking water and watering of vegetable gardens.

THINGS TO CONSIDER IN CREATING A WATER PROJECT


The first thing to decide is what involvement does your group want in deciding the particular water project it plans to fund.

  • Does your group just want to find a reliable international organization and just give them your money OR
  • does your group want to be actively involved in choosing a community and implementing the water and sanitation project in that community.

If your group wants to be actively involved and choose the community project, the first challenge is finding the community you will help. Most international organizations involved in water direct your contributions to a particular region or country, but they lack the ability to identify the particular community project your money will fund. For example, Church World Service, WaterAid, Water for People, Care, WorldVision, Living Water International and most other organizations serve particular countries or regions, but do not allow their contributors to specify individual community projects. A few organizations identify particular community projects: e.g., the Advance of the United Methodist Church, Global Ministries and Blue Planet Run all identify some individual community water and sanitation projects.



If your group wants a closer connection to the community that it hopes to help than these organizations typically allow, you can contact us for help in identifying a community. We like to know who our money will help and how our money is being used. It gives us a deeper sense of ownership in the project and helps fundraising.



If your group actually gets involved in project implementation, please bear in mind the following key considerations in designing sound projects. And even if your group is not directly involved in project implementation, you should satisfy yourself that the project you are funding has considered these items.

  • projects must be in response to independently expressed community need and the community must be involved at every stage of the project, including establishing goals, design, funding, construction, maintenance, operation, and project evaluation
  • define the project goals -- supply essential drinking water; supply full 25-50 liters per person for domestic needs; or supply all domestic, livestock, and irrigation needs
  • find a reliable and sufficient water supply to serve the project goals
  • measure the quantity and quality of water to assure that clean water will continue to be available, taking into consideration (1) seasonal variations, normal climatic cycles, and global warming impacts on water availability, (2) other demands being placed on the water source, (3) past, present and potential future sources of contamination, and (4) social, cultural, or legal constraints on water availability
  • determine what type of water project is necessary given the source and the needs
  • design the project using technology appropriate to the community, in terms of availability of materials, and spare parts, electricity as well as assuring that the community has the capacity to operate and maintain the project
  • assure that the community has an adequate governance mechanism for implementing the project and allocating the water -- paying particular attention to whether the governance mechanism equitably distributes power
  • incorporate sanitation and hygiene education into the water project to assure the project provides health benefits to the community

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