It is often not clear whose responsibility it is to manage point water sources that are being shared between institutions and communities. In most cases, community members do not feel responsible for the upkeep of point water sources. In this blog, SNV Uganda's John Robert uses the example of Adok primary school to describe how the IWAS project is helping change mindsets towards collective responsibility taking.
There is a common belief that because a handpump is within school premises, maintenance and management of the point water source is the school’s or government’s responsibility. No thought is given to the challenges that school children face when their water source breaks down. Nor are the long distances school children need to walk in search of clean water. The fact remains that when point water sources break down, the chances of drinking unsafe water heighten.
Adok primary school, in Adok sub-county Dokolo district often faces the challenge of handpump break downs. The school’s point water source is among the 200 facilities in the district to benefit from the SNV project, Improving Water Supply Sustainability (IWAS).
IWAS maintains that the proper functioning of a water facility relies on the ownership and commitment of users to maintain it. To enable a change in mindset, the project team embarked on sensitisation drives in schools and community members.
Communities and institutional stakeholders were engaged through community dialogue meetings. During these meetings, the roles and responsibilities of users in managing their own water sources, and fund collection for facility maintenance were discussed.
Several strategies were undertaken by the Adok primary school’s School Management Committee (SMC) to strengthen community participation. These included:
- Management of the school’s borehole was passed on to the Parents Teachers Association (PTA).
- An additional fee for the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of the school’s water supply facility was proposed to be levied on each student to cover the cost of maintaining the borehole. During the PTA’s Annual General Meeting, attending parents unanimously accepted the proposal to charge each student UGX 1,000 each term. This is equivalent to UGX 3,000 per student per year (under US$ 1 per student per year).
- Collection of contributions were centralised in the school’s bank account.
Whenever the borehole required maintenance or repair, funds were released by the school for the PTA to manage. A stepwise process – from fund request to actual maintenance or repair was introduced.
- The PTA’s Chair and Treasurer contact the sub-county’s designated Hand Pump Mechanic (HPM) whenever the water source needed an intervention, either preventative maintenance or repair.
- The Hand Pump Mechanic (HPM) carries out an assessment of the problem and advises on the parts that need repair. The HPM also offers a cost indication and information on where spare parts may be bought. The HPM is paid UGX 20,000 (US$ 6) for minor repairs and UGX 60,000 (US$ 17) for major repairs.
- Should the cost of repair exceed O&M funds collected, the school supplements the PTA’s available funds. This supplement fund is recovered from the PTA’s next term collection.
- During annual general meetings, the management and use of the O&M fund is presented for accountability.
According to Mr Boniface Ogwal, PTA Chair and Alfonse Opio, PTA member, whenever the borehole breaks down, actual repair time takes less than a day now because funds are readily accessible. In the past, the actual repair time could take several days or even weeks due to limited funds.
The project team is working with the PTA, extension workers and its local partner, Children Chance International, to establish a Water Source Committee (with representation from both the school and the community). The team is also making headway in creating linkages between the PTA, the Sub-county Water Supply and Sanitation Boards (SWSSBs) and Dokolo District Hand Pump Mechanics Association (HPMA) to strengthen monitoring and supervision.
Written by J.R. Okello - IWAS II Project Manager and Henry Jackson Odongo - Junior WASH Advisor
Improving Water Supply Sustainability (IWAS) Phase II project is funded by the Austrian Development Corporation (ADC) and implemented by SNV in partnership with the Dokolo district local government and Children Chance International. IWAS II aims to contribute to the long-term functionality of 850 rural water sources thereby giving 212,500 rural people uninterrupted access to drinking water supply.
Read more about SNV Uganda here.