WaterAid and our partners
work with individuals and families in their communities, paying special attention to the role of women and the most vulnerable people in society, so that they take responsibility for projects and ensure they are sustainable.
Community members work together to lift a latrine slab into place in Ghana.
Credit: WaterAid / Jon Spaull
We know that if projects are based on the communities' needs and are appropriate to their local environment, people will be committed to their success and long-term maintenance. Communities are involved from the start from planning through building, to managing and maintaining their projects over the long term.
WaterAid and partners teach communities about hygiene education so that they understand the importance of safe hygiene practices, clean water and effective sanitation to prevent water-related diseases.
Through discussions and meetings the community then decides on the type of project it needs, where the project should be based, how much it can afford to spend and the amount each family should pay.
This ensures that the projects are appropriate to everyone in the community so that poorer families can still afford to benefit from the schemes. Communities make appropriate labor, time and financial contributions to both the initial and the long-term running of the projects. Individuals are appointed by their community to manage the project and accounts.
They receive training from WaterAid and its partners so that they are equipped to run their projects in the long term. Communities are responsible for the regular maintenance and servicing of their water and sanitation facilities which means they are self reliant and only call out engineers if they have a serious problem.
Women are key participants in successful projects. They place a high priority on water supply and work very hard to design, implement and manage projects. We ensure that they are consulted about their preferences for project design especially where the projects should be sited. Their fund of knowledge about water sources is particularly valuable, for example, in identifying where the nearest, cleanest water sources are and in which month they dry out.
Community members being trained to maintain water pumps in India.
Credit: WaterAid / Marco Betti
We believe in involving women in projects not only because their involvement helps to make the work successful but also because it has a positive impact on women's positions in the community. By having such an important and public role as a health promoter or a water committee member, the women's skills in the community are enhanced. Ultimately they gain skills and confidence and become stronger and more respected.
Our programs always include hygiene education and in this area children have proved invaluable. Hygiene education is often given through schools. Children are more open to discuss and change hygiene habits than adults whose behavior has been ingrained over a lifetime. Children who learn the importance of good hygiene practices will pass these on to their families, younger brothers and sisters and ultimately their own children.
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The water committee
WaterAid helps communities to form water and sanitation committees who are responsible for the management and maintenance of new water and sanitation facilities.
Members of the committee in the village of Chipongwe in the Kafue District of Zambia explain some of their roles:
Parkinson Nkhomo (far left) is the chairman of the community water and sanitation committee. “As Chairman I check and ensure that the pump is working well. If there are any problems then I will find ways of fixing the pump. Apart from this I also train people about hygiene – especially around the pump. I explain to people not to play around here and make sure that the area is kept clean.”
Alan Malambo (third from left) is the pump mechanic. “I help to maintain this pump, 53 households use it, and because it is used so much it breaks down frequently. I received training when the committee was formed so I know how to repair the pump. The pipes wear out quite quickly so we use money we have collected for spares.”
Benson Jango (fourth from left) is the treasurer. “Every household pays 500 kwacha [about 10 US cents] a month. So far we have 20,000 to 30,000 kwacha which we will be able to use if the pump breaks down. We will then be able to buy spares and the committee will be able to mend the pump.”