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Lesson learned

Be prepared to work incrementally

  • Health clinic, Osedzi

    Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam District
    Rotary Club of Accra-Osu Oxford Street

Nobody goes to a hospital to get sick. But nearly 900 million people globally use health clinics that don’t have access to clean water, increasing the risk of infections. That was the case with the clinic in Osedzi.

The Rotary-USAID partnership initially provided the clinic with a manual borehole with a hand pump. That provided the clinic with clean water, but health care personnel had to fetch buckets of water from the pump and fill larger containers within the clinic to use while they treated patients. “There was a lot of going back and forth,” says Eric Defor, a member of the Rotary Club of Accra-Osu RE.

With that in mind, the partnership made a second improvement: It provided an overhead water storage tank and mechanized the borehole so that water could flow through pipes into the clinic. Finally, the partnership provided a solar panel to generate the electricity that powers the pump. The Rotary-USAID contributions, says Defor, have “substantially increased” the clinic’s ability to treat patients.

There was a broader lesson learned in an assessment of Phase 1 projects. It found that manual boreholes with hand pumps were most successful in remote rural areas where there were no other options for safe water. People in peri-urban communities value mechanized boreholes and reticulated systems and are willing to pay to maintain them, making them more sustainable than hand pumps.

The Rotary-USAID partnership provided this clinic in Osedzi with a bore-hole and a solar-powered pump. The pump sends water from the borehole into the tank; propelled by gravity, the water then flows through pipes into the clinic. Opposite: Theophilus Mensah (in blue cap) is the partnership’s program manager, ensuring cohesion of the projects and coordination between the partners. Having a professional manage the program helped make it more effective.

Lesson learned

Keep communities accountable

  • Bosoafise (Zoglo)

    Ga South Municipal District
    Rotary Club of Accra Legon East

Providing water and sanitation facilities – often called the hardware — is the easy part. But if the facilities aren’t sustainable, that’s money and time wasted. That is why accountability is necessary for sound management of water, sanitation, and hygiene improvements. With that in mind, Rockson Dutenya, a WASH advocacy consultant working on behalf of the Rotary-USAID partnership, works alongside Rotarians to lead local water and sanitation committee members in Bosoafise to help them discover where they have been successful in maintaining services and learn where there are problems.

Not everybody in the communities that the partnership serves is literate, so the Rotarian team uses the analogy of a spider web. “People understand how the spider weaves the web and the important role it plays in the life of a spider,” Dutenya says. “If there are gaps or holes in the web, it’s defective.” Committee members assess how they are doing on each of their roles and responsibilities, and compare their work to the best practices they were taught during their training. They then rank themselves up to 10.

As they draw a spider web based on these assessments and rankings, any gaps in performance become obvious. “At the end, they are able to see that all of their roles are connected,” Dutenya says. “It makes a salient point.” The exercise gives committee members the opportunity to hold themselves accountable, and they make an action plan to address any shortcomings.

In Bosoafise, the partnership provided two boreholes with hand pumps, alongside CLTS. Community members praised the benefits of the project: less waterborne disease; no longer having to make the two-hour walk to fetch water from the Densu River; children able to spend more time in school. But when they drew their spider web, members of the local committee realized there was a gap in the community meetings, where the committee was supposed to explain its accounting methods. They developed a plan to address this gap in financial stewardship.

WASH advocacy consultant Rockson Dutenya (bottom left) uses a spider web analogy to help local water and sanitation committee members review their performance and make a plan to address weaknesses. “If we don’t work on these gaps, we know we won’t have sustainable water and sanitation services,” he says.

• This story originally appeared in the December 2019 issue of The Rotarian magazine.