‘Providing people in Africa with clean water will save more lives than any other intervention’
Assisting an African community or school to develop a new water point is easy. Making sure that it continues to work successfully is more difficult. Unfortunately about 50% of water points in Africa developed by well meaning donors break down within 12-18 months.
The Africa Water Bank has developed some simple but essential steps which greatly increase the long term chance of success.
Community Ownership: the community needs to own the project and be closely involved from the outset. An elected committee – of men and women – is needed to manage each stage of the project and to ensure that community members are trained in the management and maintenance of the water point. The committee can organize community contributions such as cash, labor or materials – in this way the project becomes theirs. A small user’s fee to pay for ongoing maintenance needs to be negotiated. All water points require maintenance.
Survey and Placement: Careful survey and placement of the water point reduces the risk of it going dry, poor flow rates, or being misused.
The Right Technology: ensure the community has knowledge, experience and training in use of any equipment associated with the water point.
Fencing and Security: water points need to be fenced to protect them from damage and abuse. Free access to a water point will soon denude the surrounding area causing erosion, collapse or the water point going dry. Animals are attracted to a water point exacerbating erosion and creating the risk of equipment being damaged. Fencing, security and tree planting mean that all of these issues can be avoided.
Deforestation: harvesting of firewood around a water point needs to be carefully managed as it can alter the ground water and salinity levels. Animal troughs and taps should be placed away from the water point.
Taking these simple steps means that a water point developed by the African Water Bank is not likely to break down. Next week The Silent African Killer