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close this bookSpecial Public Works Programmes - SPWP - Community Water Supply - A Community Participation Training Element for SPWP User Beneficiaries (ILO - UNDP, 1987, 100 p.)
close this folderSESSION 1: What an Improved Water System Can Mean to Your Community
View the documentGUIDELINES
View the documentREADING SECTION




At the end of this learning/discussion session, the participants should be able to:

1. Identify and discuss time-saving benefits that may result from the new water supply system.

2. Identify and discuss social benefits that may result from the new water supply system.

3. Identify and discuss any economic benefits that may result from the new water supply system.

4. Identify and discuss potential health benefits that may result from proper use of the new water supply system.


one to two hours


chalkboard and chalk, or flipchart and pen


1. INTRODUCTION: The participants’ section provides a short case story which can serve as an introduction to the discussion that you will lead. If the participants are not comfortable with reading, you may:

1. read or tell the story to them in their own language;
2. make up a similar story that reflects the actual situation in their community.

2. DISCUSSION OPPORTUNITY: It is during the discussion section that most learning will take place.


· Your job is not to tell people the answers.

· Your job is to present some facts and guide the discussion so that valid conclusions will be made.

· Your job is to listen.

· Your job is to encourage everyone to participate.

The purpose of the questions is to make people THINK about water and health and sanitation. There will not always be RIGHT or WRONG answers to the discussion questions.

People like their ideas to be acknowledged. It is a good idea to quickly and briefly list all their ideas on the chalkboard or flipchart. This is particularly helpful for questions such as: “How is the saved time spent in your village?” As people suggest answers, list them.

Later, use the list for further discussion.

3. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: During the discussion section, many opinions may be given. The suggested answers that follow in this discussion leader’s guide are typical answers which may or may not be true for this community. These suggested answers are only EXAMPLES of what you might expect. You may suggest some of these answers, if necessary, in order to add more ideas to the discussion.


Questions 1 and 2: Answers will depend on the number of people in an average family and the amount of water they generally use each day.

Question 3: Possible answers might be: “Time is spent in family activities; in leisure and relaxing; in studying; in gardening; in sewing; in more agricultural work; etc.”

Question 4: Possible answers might include: “The men benefit from their wives’ extra time spent on agriculture”: or “Men benefit from improved health conditions.”

Question 5: Possible answers might include: “More plentiful water makes it easier to make or sell food and drink, e.g. home-made beer”; or “More plentiful water may provide opportunities for small industries to develop.”

Question 6: In addition to answers similar to those in number 5 above, other answers might include: “Water will make our gardens more productive so we will have more vegetables to sell in the market”; or “Water will bring better health so we will spend less money on medecine”; “Water may help us plant trees”; “Water may help us make bricks to use ourselves or to sell for extra money”; or “Water may help us to keep our livestock healthy”.

Question 7: Possible answers might include: “People may have less diarrhoea; Babies will have less gastro-enteritis; There will be fewer skin and eye infections, etc.”

Question 8: Possible answers might include: “If people are healthier, they have more energy and can do more work; Children grow stronger; Children will go to school more often; Less money will be spent on medicine; etc.”

5. READING ASSIGNMENT: If this group does study assignments before each learning/discussion session, ask them to read the material in Session 2 before the next group meeting.



Read the paragraphs below. Your discussion leader will answer any questions you have.

Use the DISCUSSION OPPORTUNITY to talk with other members of your group.


In a small village far from the river, there is a new water supply system. There are now three good wells in the village and no one has to walk more than five minutes to get water. Each well has a hand pump and with just a little effort, the women and children of the area can draw plenty of water. Water comes from the well all year long.

Before the new wells were built, most water was collected from a small stream which was an hour’s walk away. Water is very heavy. The people who had to carry it so far usually felt very tired after collecting water.

Some women were afraid to walk such a long distance. They were worried about snakes and wild animals, and even thieves.

During the dry season, there was sometimes not enough water in the stream for bathing or washing clothes. There was hardly enough for cooking. At that time of year, however, there were many mosquitos around the stream. The people who collected water there often suffered from malaria.

People in the village often have diarrhoea. Many also have skin infections. Medicine is not always available; and when it is, it is expensive.

Most people in the village have fields to cultivate, as well as vegetable gardens. When the wet season comes there is a lot of work to do. In the past, it always seemed as if there were not. enough hours in the day to get all the work done.


1. Suppose that the families in this village are about the same size as the families in your community. How much time each day did they spend collecting water before the new wells?

How much time is spent now?

2. Before the new water supply system, were the women of your community tired after collecting the day’s water?

Are they tired now?

3. Were the women of your community ever afraid when they went to collect water?

Are they afraid now?

4. People in the story village have more time now because they don’t have to go so far for water. How do you think they might spend this time?

Do people in your community have more time now?

How do they spend it?

5. Does your community benefit in other ways from the new water supply system?

How do the men benefit?

How do the women benefit?

6. In your community, do you expect economic benefits from the new water supply system?

Which ones?

7. Plenty of clean water may bring health benefits to people. (NOTE: We will discuss the relation of water/sanitation/health in Session 2.) Can you think of any health benefits that might come to the people in the story village?

8. Would fewer infections or diseases help your family or community?

Why or why not? How?