|Towards Sustainable Water Resources Management - A Strategic Approach (European Commission, 1998, 351 pages)|
|Part III: Aids for the application of the strategic approach|
|Chapter 13: Programme and project aids|
Development interventions do not take place in isolation, but have to be placed within the context of the lives of the people who will be affected or influenced by the intervention. All development interventions have significant social contexts, but the social context of water projects calls for special care and consideration in analysis.
It is especially important to understand the ways in which different communities and groups manage their social living, and to be able to assess the impact that any changes may have on the way of life.
The main objectives of a Social Impact Analysis are to determine:
· which projects need further consideration of social issues;
· which projects should be eliminated because the potential for negative social impact is too great.
SIA is based on a set of key questions:
1. Which populations are intended to benefit from support to a given development activity?
2. Do they really need the project? What advantages will it bring them?
3. Will other, perhaps more needy, populations be excluded from benefiting, or do so only indirectly? Could they be incorporated?
4. Will any group be negatively affected? Could anything be done to mitigate negative impacts?
5. Will women benefit as well as men?
6. What level of participation by the target population in planning and implementation is possible and appropriate for this project?
7. Is the project technically and culturally appropriate?
8. Is it essential that target populations change their behaviour to benefit from this project, if so how will this be achieved?
9. Is the project affordable by user groups?
10. Are social issues adequately reflected in judgments on project viability?
11. Are arrangements for project management appropriate?
There are five main elements of social development to consider in the water projects. These are:
· The cultural features and implications of water use;
· The perceived needs of all those affected by changes in policy and by new projects;
· Inclusion of all members of society, particularly those who may be disadvantaged by poverty, or by their status in society;
· Recognition that the roles and needs of women and men may be different, but that they should have equal status in society, and that equal participation and benefit for women and men is a pre-requisite for a successful project;
· Encouragement of the participation of all stakeholders in the development process and the eventual empowerment of communities.
The broad social issues which relate particularly to water interventions fall into three main categories: water and land use, water for food production and water and health
Within those categories there are a number of other key issues such as: water and nutrition, water for food processing and preparation, water for irrigation and non-irrigated crops, water for vegetable gardens, water-borne and water-related disease, water for animals, water and culture.
Cultural issues with regard to water are especially sensitive. There may be beliefs and behaviours associated with water use to which strong religious or customary value is attached. There may also be differences in attitudes between women, children and men. These differences are more easily exposed by participatory methods of enquiry, and in the first instance by discussing with women and men separately.
Identification and analysis of key water users is an important feature of Social Impact Assessment, and the SIA should incorporate data on modes of collection, carrying and use, and purposes of use, ensuring that data is disaggregated by gender.
SIA should explore the traditional idea of water as a 'free' good. Where water has traditionally been regarded as a free natural resource, the introduction of the idea of an economic value for water and of possible water charges will affect household and agricultural management, and require new social arrangements for collection of dues. Poorer households may not be able to afford water charges, or in the case of water supply, connection charges.
The impact on traditional water-sellers, or owners of traditional wells and sources of water, is an important consideration for an SIA. Traditional owners and sellers may lose status in society, as well as income, and may seek to dominate community groups and committees.
Exploration of the understanding of the relationship water and well-being is an essential feature of SIA, and any benefits and dis-benefits should be highlighted. There is considerable evidence to show that the introduction of clean water does not necessarily lead to an improvement in community health unless attention is paid to certain issues in the SIA; also that the introduction of irrigation can lead to increased health problems.
Therefore the SIA should consider:
· Perceptions about the health attributes of traditional well water, especially it's taste, smell and health-giving properties;
· Perceptions about the benefits of irrigation, levels of cropping, seasonality, etc.;
· Perceptions that children's excreta is 'clean' and whether it is therefore handled differently and unhygienically;
· Perceptions that animals especially dogs and pigs clean up excreta.
· Level of understanding of the concept of clean/grey/dirty water;
· The possibility that 'project' water will be used for small enterprise development, and that traditional wells and streams will continue to supply family needs;
· Analysis of the likely health hazards following from the creation of lagoons, reservoirs, and other areas of standing water, as well as the effects of treatment works and sludge disposal;
· The likelihood of greater water availability increasing the incidence of water-borne disease if the water supply is not kept pathogen-free.
The SIA should also take into account the social customs relating to water use - such as:
· Customary methods of collection/storage and hygienic practices;
· The importance of the social groupings that develop around traditional wells and other water sources;
· Customary methods of watering crops, and other farming activities;
· Customary uses of water sources for religious and other ritual activity;
· Customary perceptions of 'clean' and 'unclean' water;
· Customary sites for washing clothes and bathing;
· Customary intervals for bathing for women, men and children;
· The use of water from different sources for different cooking, brewing and other food processing activities;
· The use of different sources for watering and washing animals.
Analysis of social norms and customs will enable the preparation of proposals for the siting of new water installations to be sensitively managed in co-operation with the stakeholders and the users.
User preference for technological options should also be explored in an SIA (e.g. pit latrines, communal toilets, and different irrigation methods).
The SIA should seek to identify community groups which have a particular relationship to traditional water sources, and if possible use those groups as the basis for management and maintenance of the 'new' water projects. The identification of female and male community leaders, within as well as outside the groups, is a key to effective management.
Women's groups often have responsibility for water management and maintenance of installations within the community and the SIA should ensure they are included. This is not necessarily the case with irrigation projects and extra care needs to be taken to ensure that women are included in water-user groups for irrigation.
The identification of levels of understanding of the benefits of water for human uses and agriculture is an important strand of analysis for an SIA. The SIA should identify gaps in understanding and possible topics for community education. Schools as well as water extension organisations should be available to deliver water-awareness programmes. (See also Gender Analysis, which should be incorporated into SIA).
Further information: A guide to Social Analysis for Projects in Developing Countries, ODA, 1995.