Tearfund Disaster Management Key Learning Water and Sanitation

Tearfund Disaster Management Key Learning
Water and Sanitation
Last Updated: 15 November 2009
Specific actionable recommendations and relevant background information
Community participation as well as technical assessment should be
incorporated into WASH projects
Source of Learning:
Various / Liberia
Background Information:
Whilst this may be restricted in initial emergency stages due to the urgency of providing facilities,
we have learnt that valuable assistance in siting water points and latrines is given by planning and
liaising with community representatives. The outcome will usually be facilities that are socially
and culturally acceptable, with a firm degree of ownership, and consequently enhanced care and
maintenance demonstrated by the users.
This being true, professional technical assessment must also be considered: In Gbarpolu County,
Liberia, the number of hand-dug wells completed by Tearfund and Partner AEL (16) was only half
of that planned by March 2008. This shortfall was mainly due to 12 unsuccessful (dry) wells,
which encountered bed-rock, and were then abandoned and the well points re-sited. The Watsan
team had initially sited wells according to community preference alone (e.g. on hill tops, within, or
on the edge of, the village), with less regard for hydro-geological and topographical consideration.
This led to substantial effort in well-digging being wasted.
Help beneficiaries to create appropriate community-based management
structures for WASH facilities
Source of Learning:
Background Information:
In relief and post-relief phases, it may not be possible to create a sustainable community
maintenance system with sufficient spares and tools to maintain their new facilities, although this
should be held as an ultimate goal. Nevertheless, a beneficiary-facing management structure will
significantly aid tasks such as water distribution, management of queues at water points, latrine
maintenance, protection of facilities, etc. In post-relief phases the role of accountability groups is
critical to sustainability of the project, and every effort should be made to ensure the
accountability group has sufficient capacity to carry out its role, which must be well defined and
WASH interventions must be based on an integration of water
provision PLUS safe excreta disposal PLUS hygiene promotion
Source of Learning:
Various / Darfur
Background Information:
Clean water alone will not prevent water & sanitation-related disease. This is particularly relevant
in relief situations, where close living proximity and shared facilities can easily result in the spread
of contaminable diseases. Hygiene education needs to be promoted in a manner that enables
beneficiaries to understand the risks, and WASH projects should focus on empowering
beneficiaries to alter their hygiene behaviours as necessary. Improvements in sanitation
measures, domestic water supplies, and hygiene practices should be fully integrated.
Effective co-ordination is required in programming for WASH. This was evident in Darfur, where
the March 2007 evaluation noted the wider awareness and demand raised by the HP programme
that could not be matched by the targeted spread of the latrines across the different communities.
Adopt mechanisms for cost-recovery of WASH projects appropriate to
the context
Source of Learning:
Sierra Leone, Liberia, Other
Background Information:
In a relief, or immediate post-relief situation, cash-based cost-recovery may not be possible or
desirable, since populations affected by disaster may have lost all financial means of support. Inkind contributions from direct beneficiaries should be explored, of which labour is key. Typically,
beneficiaries could be asked to dig their own latrine pits, build superstructures, or provide locally
available raw materials (e.g. large stones for foundations, sand for making cement, or gravel from
river beds). This needs to be weighed up against other demands placed on their time. E.g. in
Sierra Leone and Liberia WASH project teams needed to be mindful of the workloads and priority
of re-establishing shelter in the villages where beneficiaries were resettling, clearing agricultural
land and re-starting food production, alongside the contributions they were asked to make in
digging latrines and hand dug wells.
Ensure the project links with local government through influencing,
advocating and supporting local policy development for improved
access to WASH
Source of Learning:
Background Information:
This should be through agreed means, such as assistance with materials transport, secondment
of trained personnel, procurement of local building materials, legal and administrative assistance
in procuring land or in endorsing projects, and, importantly, to provide an agreed level of
maintenance, including, where appropriate, training of beneficiary caretakers, and in helping to
maintain a supply chain of essential parts (such as parts for hand-pumps).
Consider environmental sustainability in WASH projects
Source of Learning:
Darfur / Sudan
Background Information:
The environmental study in Darfur in 2006 has shown us that we must actively protect the
environment in order to safeguard water resources. Adopt an approach of sustainable resource
management, in which consideration is given to population size and growth, deforestation, the
impact of the livelihoods of local beneficiaries, rainfall patterns, grazing & cropping patterns, water
harvesting (potable and non-potable), and the potential benefits of building sand-dams to help
maintain groundwater levels.
o Ensure that the static water level in all boreholes is regularly monitored, and that results are
collated and analysed, preferably by a capable co-ordinating body;
o Empower beneficiary management structures to co-ordinate tree-planting in catchments.
Raise awareness of fuel-efficient stoves, and alternative fuels to timber;
o Monitor overall water usage, particularly where heavy non-potable water use is an issue, e.g.
brick-making. Advocate for establishment of procedures to curtail misuse of beneficiary water
supplies, with responsibility coming under the beneficiary management structure.
Ensure effective supply chains are in place for spare parts for pumps,
generators, treatment equipment & consumables, and water testing
Source of Learning:
Sierra Leone, Liberia, Other
Background Information:
Ensure caretakers, management committees, or assigned government staff, have the capacity to
competently replace spare parts, and maintain all structures.
o Ensure an effective procedure is in place to undertake major repairs, which cannot be carried
out by beneficiary caretakers. In order to achieve this, prioritise capacity-building for
personnel responsible (e.g. local government water engineers, who may not be competent in
all aspects of hand-pump maintenance), and provide (or advocate for local government
provision) of essential equipment to carry out these major repairs, e.g. tripods, block & tackle.
o Projects may require the identification of a back-stopping agency which can come in to
undertake major repairs in a community after the project team has exited. This was a concern
in both Sierra Leone and Liberia and was highlighted in project external evaluations as an
important aspect of ensuring long term sustainability of the water points.
Where possible, adopt social marketing processes in WASH
Source of Learning:
Background Information:
This approach may be restricted in initial emergency stages due to the urgency of providing
facilities, and is more applicable to the rehabilitation phase of an intervention. The overall
concept of importance is to aim for interventions which are demand-led, as opposed to supplydriven. Sanitation marketing in particular has advantages over other sanitation promotion
methods because it does not focus on educating people or promoting a particular type of toilet.
Rather, it tries to understand what users want and works with toilet-builders to satisfy these
demands. Another key area for social marketing in respect of WASH projects is the successful
adoption of Biosand filters for household-based water treatment. Consumer-focused approaches
stimulate livelihood opportunities within communities (such as local production of latrine slabs or
concrete Biosand filters), but this will require capacity-building. Community-Led Total Sanitation
(CLTS) is a very popular demand-led approach to improved sanitation, which has seen particular
success in Afghanistan, and should be considered.
Adopt Water Safety Plans
Source of Learning:
South Sudan, Afghanistan, Liberia
Background Information:
Ensuring safe water quality is maintained in community-based water supply projects is usually an
ad-hoc procedure, involving, on occasion, random water quality testing events using field kits. In
few cases the water testing may form part of a regular water quality monitoring regime, but this is
rare, and even if an established regime has been set up by an implementing agency, it often fails
due to a lack of consumables for the kit, or breakdown of the incubator in the kit, or simply that
the operator fails to cover his or her absence (e.g. due to adverse weather conditions, or security
issues). Even if a water quality monitoring regime is adhered to, the water quality results are, by
nature, historic – they will only show what contamination has already entered the water supply,
and most likely has also been consumed.
WSPs help beneficiary communities and project implementing agencies to:
identify the source of contamination (the hazard);
develop methods to control the hazard;
monitor when the supply is in compliance; and
verify the effectiveness of the whole system (i.e. from catchment, right through to the point of
water use or consumption).