Description/achievement of initiative
This community-based rural water supply project will provide safe, clean drinking water to over 2,000 people in five rural villages in Central Honduras. Drinking water will be conveyed and treated using appropriate technology to ensure long-term sustainability and maintainability by local communities, including chlorine disinfection.
The primary objective of this project is to provide a safe water supply that will be sustained for future generations. Key elements to ensure the sustainability of the project include: Appropriate technology, Participation of community members in construction through volunteer labor, Capacity building (both technical and administrative), and Community buy-in to the project through local cost-sharing. (1) Appropriate technology for this project include construction materials that are locally available, inexpensive to repair or replace, and easy for community members to work on themselves. Examples include PVC pipes, concrete pressure control structures, and chlorine tablet treatment. (2) Community members perform the vast majority of the construction labor; in so doing, they learn how the water system works and how to fix it when something goes wrong. This hands-on learning is essential to ensuring the project is properly maintained in the future and will thereby be sustainable for years to come. (3) Not everyone knows how to build or administer a water system before they start. An important component of implementing the project by donors and other sponsors is providing training and capacity building to the villages. This capacity building includes both technical training in water system construction and operation, and administrative training in financial management and public administration. (4) Knowing how to maintain a water system is worthless without a strong commitment by community members at the grassroots level to do so. Every family in the community is required to contribute financially to the construction of the project, thereby demonstrating their commitment to the project and reinforcing their investment in the project's future maintenance.
Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer
One of the most effective arrangements for sharing knowledge is peer-to-peer training. Where possible, the project sponsors bring Water Board administrators and system operators from more experienced communities, which have operated their completed water projects for years, to provide direct hands-on training to communities who are just starting out with construction, operation, and administration of new community water systems. This knowledge transfer consists in formal training sessions for construction techniques; on-the-job training for new water system operators in topics such as water chlorination, chlorine monitoring, PVC pipe assembly; and one-on-one tutoring for administrators in such topics as managing community funds, tracking budgets, and creating receipts for water customers. This peer-to-peer training is supplemented with training and mentoring from professional staff and volunteers provided by the project sponsors and donors.
Coordination mechanisms/governance structure
The water supply, treatment and distribution infrastructure are administered by locally elected Water Boards in each village. The Water Boards are responsible for overseeing construction, including managing local construction funds and organizing volunteer laborers. Upon completion of construction, the Water Board for each village will be responsible for operation and maintenance of the completed infrastructure, including repairs, connecting new customers, chlorination of the water supply, and regular testing of chlorine levels and bacteriological testing throughout the system. The Water Boards will also be responsible to collect monthly water bills from all customers and manage community funds to maintain the solvency of the water system.
Water Engineers for the Americas, World Vision, American Chemistry Council