|Water and Sanitation Technologies: A Trainer's Manual (Peace Corps, 1985)|
During the last 20 years, Peace Corps has assigned over 4,000 Volunteers to work in water supply and environmental sanitation projects throughout the developing world. Over 200 Peace Corps projects with water and/or sanitation as primary activities have been identified for the period from 1970 to the present. This history of projects integrating water or sanitation activities demonstrates Peace Corps' performance in meeting the needs of the poor and improving quality of life through:
· provision of clean water supplies to reduce morbidity and
· provision of water supplies where there were none before;
· development of small-scale enterprise opportunities;
· use of irrigation to improve food production and provide year-round domestic water supplies;
· institution building; and
· prevention of water-related diseases through health education.
Many Peace Corps projects have had a water supply or sanitation component as a primary activity although they may have been classified as agriculture, health, rural infrastructure, municipal works, natural resource conservation, or community development projects. (Water activities related to the fisheries sector were not included in this research.) Water and sanitation are probably the most common threads through the various sectors, the most binding elements in an integrated approach to development. This is particularly noteworthy considering the 200 projects do not include all the Peace Corps teachers, community development workers, agriculturalists, and engineers who worked outside their primary "project" area to construct wells, latrines, pumps, and irrigation systems, or to teach sanitation and prevention of water-related diseases such as malaria, onchocerciasis, and schistosomiasis (bilharzia).
This sustained effort by Peace Corps over the years has trained and educated co-workers and villagers, created employment opportunities, developed villager self-help skills, created income-generating opportunities, and saved water from distant sources. (Peace Corps' Water and Sanitation Sector, 1981, p.1.) In addition, Peace Corps efforts have produced numerous technical materials, publications, and manuals on water/sanitation which have had a wide impact on development.
Volunteers are assigned to a wide variety of water and sanitation projects in collaboration with host country ministries, voluntary agencies, and international development agencies. The Volunteers serve as water engineers, technicians, drillers, construction supervisors, irrigation specialists, health educators, and community organizers. They design and build water facilities and train counterparts to build water systems, wells, protect springs, distribution networks, storage tanks, and a wide variety of appropriate technology water devices. There are abundant examples of improved wells, springs, dams, catchments, water systems, appropriate water pumping devices (hand pumps, hydraulic rams, windmills), and latrines maintained by local people that are the result of Peace Corps Volunteer involvement. The work has gained recognition from heads of state, government officials, and international development agencies.
As inspectors, community health workers, educators, and community organizers for sanitation projects, Volunteers organize village health committees; coordinate community latrine, garbage collection, and water source improvement projects; educate villagers; and strengthen public health extension networks.
Perhaps because of increased awareness regarding the importance of water and sanitation needs since the declaration of the UN International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, requests for Volunteers in this sector have been on the increase since 1978; however, exact figures are available only since 1980. In December 1980, a Peace Corps survey revealed 334 Volunteers working in water supply and sanitation projects, with the largest number serving in Africa. A year later, the total number of Volunteers in water and sanitation projects had increased to 350, with a 51 percent increase in Africa. At the writing of this report, figures for 1982 were incomplete, but indications based on requests from countries, data on current training programs, and information contained in the Supply/Demand Survey were that the total number of Volunteers would not be lower than 350 and could be higher than 400.
The number of projects increased from 46 in 1980 to 51 in 1981. However, the increase in projects and water/sanitation Volunteers took place at the same time that total Volunteers in service overseas declined from 5,400 in 1980 to 5,100 in 1981. Analysis of the 1980-81 Volunteer Activity Survey Reports* suggests that almost 20 percent of all Volunteers - more than 1,100 - were involved in water supply and sanitation projects as primary, secondary, or tertiary activities in 1980.
*Produced by Peace Corps' Office of Planning Assessment and Management Information.
The Supply/Demand Survey of 1982, a Peace Corps/Washington field survey of anticipated needs for Volunteers by sector, was conducted by the Office of Training and Program Support (OTPS) to collect information on major trends for future programming. The data are to be used to define Peace Corps policy in recruitment, programming, and training assistance, as well as budgetary allocations. Preliminary results of this survey, available as of March 1983, indicated that the largest single number of Volunteers requested were for water supply (293) and irrigation (126) projects. This figure represents more than 12 percent of the total number of Volunteers requested. (Tomaro, John B., An Assessment of the Water and Sanitation Sector in the Peace Corps Program: Role of the Office of Program Development, Research Triangle Institute, 1983.)
Common Problems of Water Projects*
The common problems associated with Peace Corps rural water projects parallel to a large degree those stated in the World Bank Paper, Village Water Supply (March 1976). Although they naturally overlap, the problems are grouped into three broad categories in the paper-institutional, financial, and technological.
*This section is excerpted from a 1979 survey of potable water projects by the Water/Sanitation Sector Specialist in OTAPS. (Hafner, Craig, Water and Sanitation in the U.S. Peace Corps, 1979.) Many of these problems prevail today in projects with water/sanitation components.
· There is lack of a rural water supply policy forming part of a national water supply policy.
· There exist several government agencies whose lines of responsibility overlap or are ill-defined.
· There is a lack of institutions capable of project development.
· There is a lack of water organizations at the local level.
· There is a lack of trained manpower at every level.
· There is a lack of criteria for project evaluation and priority selection.
· Per capita costs, for a given level of service, increase as village size decreases.
· Villagers have relatively low income and there are limited village financial resources.
· There is a lack of policy to obtain maximum financial support from areas to be served.
· There is a lack of local government infrastructure, an inability to collect and retain locally collected taxes for local use, and difficulty in collecting fees for water users.
· There is a lack of village motivation and of public health education, so that villagers are unaware of the potential benefits of improved water systems and are not willing to pay for them.
· The rural population may return to water from ponds, streams, shallow wells, and other sources of questionable quality if high charges for piped water are imposed.
· Records show a short operating life for equipment, poor maintenance, and many project failures.
· There is a lack of local capacity to fabricate simple, reliable equipment for which spare parts and service would be available locally.
· The various national agencies use a wide variety of types and makes of equipment, compounding the problem of operation and maintenance.
· Severe communications problems exist between remote rural systems and their support organizations, so that system breakdowns are not reported promptly.
· There is difficulty in obtaining spare parts due to lack of money, scarcity of foreign exchange, cumbersome procurement procedures, problems of logistics, and absence of a support agency which maintains an inventory of needed parts.
· There is difficulty in providing sufficient repair staff and transport to attend promptly to breakdowns, especially when breakdowns occur in widely dispersed rural systems with very poor road links.
According to Water and Sanitation in the U.S. Peace Corps (Hafner, Craig, 1979), by far the most crucial problems are the institutional and financial ones; if these could be resolved, the technological problems would largely disappear.
Water Resource Management: An Integrated Approach
Peace Corps water/sanitation programming for the 1980s aims to develop more fully the supportive role of water/sanitation work in agriculture, environmental conservation, and health and other programs. More and more Volunteers may be using water-related skills to develop livestock watering points or small-scale irrigation systems for crop production, including household gardens. These activities can increase food supplies and cash incomes as well as provide nutritional variation and water supplies for year-round domestic use.
Similarly, encouraging water conservation practices can provide better potable water supplies, while erosion control efforts prevent flooding and maintain water tables.
Water supply, sanitation, and health are closely inter-related in Peace Corps programming. Improved sanitation and availability of water in or near villages reduce exposure to the vectors of malaria, onchocerciasis, and schistosomiasis. Improvements in the accessibility and quality of water are important in the reduction of dysentery and guinea worm. (Jones, B., Household Water Supplies, 1981, p. 7.) On the other hand, a possible increase in disease vectors must be dealt with in planning irrigation schemes.
The Jones report states that providing water without sanitation or education on the relationship of water, sanitation, and disease may only conserve the energy of the water carriers and have little impact on the levels of disease and death. Water is necessary for improved health, but is not effective without supporting factors. "Personal and domestic hygiene, storage, water-use patterns and sanitation all determine, to some degree, whether water supply improvements will contribute to the realization of health benefits." (Jones, 1981, p. 12). Since diarrhea! diseases and malnutrition are cyclical, each contributing to the severity of the other, it is important, says Jones, to improve nutrition as well as provide clean water supplies.
The Role of Women
Because women draw the water, bathe the children and educate them in hygiene, launder the clothes, and do the kitchen gardening, they are the principal targets of water and sanitation activities.
...because cultural inhibitions can and do provoke misuse and underuse of safe water supply and waste disposal systems, it is critical that adequate health education and community participation efforts involving women become integral components of planning strategies. Third world women, the traditional drawers and carriers of water, can play a significant role in promoting community acceptance of improved water supply and sanitation programs....Until women are involved and understand the importance of good sanitation, we can expect limited acceptance. Once the women understand, they can play key roles in household decisions relating to changing behavioral patterns and to socializing children in similar behavior and attitudes in areas such as personal hygiene and sanitation. (Elmendorf, Mary, Women, Water, and Waste: Beyond Access, pp. 9 and 12.)
Recognizing the basic role of women in water and sanitation aspects of daily living, 30 non-governmental organizations at the 1977 UN Water Conference in Mar del Plata issued the following statement for developing countries to consider when preparing their national plans.
(a) Include strategies to develop human resources at the community level to meet local needs.
(b) Ensure equal access for women to training with regard to the maintenance, management, and technology of water sources and supplies.
(c) Ensure that women be included in any educational pro grams on the use of water and its protection from contamination.
(d) Ensure the participation of women in local councils and planning boards responsible for making decision on community water supply.
(e) Recognize the increasingly effective role that women, NGOs, and other women's organizations can play in the education of public opinion for needed change.
("Special Situation of Women in Regard to Water," Statement prepared by the Non-Governmental Organizations Committee on UNICEF for the Preparatory Committee, United Nations Water Conference, January, 1977, from Elmendorf, p. 10.)
Most Peace Corps water and sanitation projects in the past have not included host country women, but many have begun to do so. Paraguay's Environmental Sanitation and Rural Health Projects are good examples of an integrated approach to water, sanitation, and health education involving women at all stages.
Washington's Coordinating Efforts
Over the years, programming in the area of water/sanitation -as in other areas - has become increasingly complex. Water supply and sanitation activities now often take place in the context of an integrated approach to development involving many other program areas. Community involvement, especially of women, is now recognized as a primary requisite for success.
Assistance is available to Peace Corps programmers attempting to deal with these complexities in the field through the Water/Sanitation Sector, Office of Training and Program Support (OTAPS). The sector office was established in 1979 to focus on improving the quality of Peace Corps' programming and training in water/sanitation. Early sectoral efforts centered on potable water and sanitation in response to the emphasis of the U.S. Water Decade and the goal of meeting basic human needs.
Sectoral efforts have expanded in the 1980s to encompass water resource management and sanitation activities in support of projects in agriculture, health, and other areas emphasized in the Forward Plan. The water/sanitation sector staff coordinates technical information, ideas, and consultants to support water and sanitation activities in all sectors in the field; develops strategies to improve the quality and increase the quantity of both projects and pre-service and in-service training models; and encourages appropriate collaboration among Peace Corps, private voluntary organizations (PVOs), and international donor organizations participating in the UN Water Decade.
This collection of case studies is another tool for improving the quality of Peace Corps' programming and training in water and sanitation. Looking at the following case studies and analyses, the reader may note the improvements over time in areas such as Volunteer training, use of counterparts, development of national rural water supply policies and coordinating committees, and community participation. Each country takes a different approach to the degree of integrated programming and the methods of solving administrative, managerial, and financial problems. All have valuable lessons to offer others working in water/sanitation worldwide.
REPRINTED: Peace Corps Water/Sanitation Case Studies and Analyses, compiled by Diane Talbert, Peace Corps ICE, Case Study Number 4, 1984.
Since 1961 when the Peace Corps was created, more than 80,000 U.S. citizens have served as Volunteers in developing countries, living and working among the people of the Third World as colleagues and co-workers, Today 6 000 PCVs are involved in programs designed to help strengthen local capacity to address such fundamental concerns as food production, water supply, energy development, nutrition and health education and reforestation.
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