Water projects sounds quite simple, but it’s a science of its own. We have gathered some of the most frequent questions regarding the projects that Viva con Agua supports.
What’s the meaning of WASH?
WASH stands for water, sanitation and hygiene and forms the basis of Viva con Agua’s international projects. The interaction of these three project components allows the lasting success of WASH projects because drinking water only stays clean if this holistic approach is pursued. This concept enables the long-term improvement of living conditions within the supported communities: Water has to be accessible at all times and, most importantly, it has to be clean. Sanitation facilities can help avoid (ground)water contamination. Hygiene, e.g. washing hands regularly and effectively, reduces the spread of bacteria, keeps drinking water clean and improves people’s health.
A significant improvement of people’s health has fundamental consequences: Healthy people can work in regular jobs, healthy people can have a better diet, are better protected against infections, healthy children have a significantly lower absence rate at school – especially girls don’t miss class due to their period.
This enables a positive, sustainable development within the supported communities.
What kind of wells are there?
Wells can be constructed in various ways. The circumstances in our project areas vary so that different well types are required. One important factor is, for example, the ground water level.
Shallow wells that feature a hand pumping system are most common. Holes with a depth of approximately 80 meters are drilled for this type of well in order to access the groundwater. Hand pumping systems create a vacuum to pump the water to the earth’s surface.
If the groundwater reserves are located deeper, so-called deep wells are drilled. They feature a motor-driven pumping system (often solar-powered) which transports the water to the surface.
What kind of toilets are being build?
There are also different types of construction in terms of sanitary facilities. Pit latrines, i.e. squat toilets, are the most common type. A hole in the ground is lined with concrete to protect the groundwater against contamination. The hole or pit is then covered by a ceramic standing surface (or simply by a concrete lid). No water is needed to operate latrines. Hand-washing facilities are built in front of the latrines so people can wash their hands with water and soap.
What is happening during an hygiene training?
Hygiene trainings aim to educate the people in the project areas regarding various hygiene issues. There’s a large variety of topics: Why should open defecation be avoided? How do I wash my hands properly and why is this important? How do I make sure that water stays germ-free during transport and storage? The trained persons are supposed to pass on their knowledge and act as hygiene ambassadors.
Which partners is Viva con Agua collaborating with?
Since its birth, Viva con Agua can rely on a strong partner and friend: Welthungerhilfe (World Hunger Aid). It is the largest partner organization of Viva con Agua, including its respective country offices.
Furthermore, we have recently established collaborations with other international NGOs like Helvetas, PLAN, Menschen für Menschen and BORDA as well as Ped-world and WasserStiftung.
Local NGOs are also important partners in terms of successful project implementation, e.g. ORDA in Ethiopia, PACIDA and LOKADO in Kenya, Viva con Agua Uganda in Uganda und Viva con Agua South Africa, SEND in Sierra Leone, the organization Jan Jal Jodo by the “Waterman of India”, Parmarth and Helioz in India, RRN and Sheshkant Foundation in Nepal
Public institutions, companies, civil society movements and networks of young, motivated activist – mainly from the areas of music, art and sport – are also part of the Viva con Agua cosmos.
How does Viva con Agua select WASH projects?
The first impulse for a project usually comes from the respective country in which Viva con Agua is active. The local population – in cooperation with local organizations and authorities – approaches Welthungerhilfe or other organizations on site to express their need for WASH (“demand-driven projects”).
Our local partners thoroughly check all project suggestions and create a selection of projects that match Viva con Agua. These are presented to VcA and selected according to criteria such as sustainability, integration of the population in the project work and the political situation on site. All parameters for the selection of WASH projects are established in Viva con Agua’s WASH strategy.
How is Viva con Agua ensuring the sustainability of supported projects?
When selecting WASH projects, Viva con Agua puts great emphasis on sustainability and the principle of “helping people to help themselves”. So-called WASH committees are trained in each project which assume responsibility for the reliable operation and maintenance of the WASH infrastructure. Furthermore, the competent public authorities, e.g. water ministries and district administrations, are always involved in the project work because these institutions are eventually responsible for supplying the population.
Moreover, VcA is in constant communication with its local partner organizations. They regularly provide status reports on the progress of the project. On repeated project trips, VcA gets an idea of the situation on site and takes the time for intensive exchange with all project participants and the local community.
VcA has a WASH project coordinator to perform its own project monitoring.
In terms of project design, we focus on sustainable services to shape the WASH projects “for everyone, everywhere and forever”. Viva con Agua helped to found Welthungerhilfe’s “Sustainable Services Initiative”, which pursues a systemic approach to improve the sustainability of WASH projects through holistic project planning and implementation. It aims to solve complex challenges by strengthening systems. The WASH systems are divided into nine functional areas. Their interaction is indispensable to ensure consistent water flow!
What’s behind the so called water committee?
The water committee is a voluntary, mostly directly elected group consisting of 9-12 members from the user community that accompanies the projects on site. The committee takes care of many tasks, ranging from maintenance and infrastructure repairs to trainings. A comparatively high percentage of women in the water committees is promoted by all project organizations.
Are people paying for their water services?
This is necessary to promote the sustainability of any WASH project. The contribution is used, for example, to repair wells if they are out of order or buy spare parts if needed.
The “water cent” does not go to project organizations or the state, but is administered by the water committee itself. The population, pursuing a grassroots approach, determines the amount to be paid which depends on the economic conditions of the local inhabitants.
The chairperson and treasurer of the water committees are responsible for collecting the contributions and managing the accounts in their community.
How does my donation reach WASH projects?
An overview of our use of funds can be found in our transparency overview.
What’s special: A so-called leverage effect can be observed in many projects. Our partner organizations, especially Welthungerhilfe, make applications to get the most out of your donations so that we repeatedly manage to get additional funding for projects from third-party funders (e.g. public institutions such as federal ministries or the EU Commission). On average, the funding achieved a leverage effect with a factor of 4 in recent years!