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Water treatment

In harmony with the new

In harmony with the new developments in the sector, the following definition of sustainable water supply and sanitation programmes emerges: A water supply or sanitation system is sustainable when it (Galvis et al, 1997): • Provides an efficient and reliable service at a level that is desired • Can be financially and technically maintained at local level with limited but feasible external support • Is being used in an efficient way, without negatively affecting the environment. The definition encompasses the aspects proposed by the OECD/DAC (1988) and by Warner (1990), and is in harmony with the WHO Minimum Evaluation Procedures, which stresses functioning and use as the main issues to be reviewed (WHO, 1983). The definition indicates that sustainability implies a match between the political, socio-economic, legal and institutional frameworks in which the systems need to operate, and that it involves three strategic inter-linking dimensions as indicated in Figure 6.5 (Galvis et al, 1997). Environment and Resources Reduction of the risk Factors Science and Technology Risk Sustainable Solutions Ownership Community and Local Institutions CONTEXT Political-Juridical Institutional Framework Figure 6.5. Conceptual framework underpinning the search for sustainability The community and the local institutions. This dimension concerns different groups of people or local organisations with some common, but also some conflicting, interests, ideas and different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. The water supply system may be one such common interest, but at the same time can be a major source of conflict. Their history and their socio-economic and environmental conditions shape the identity of the people in the communities and their local organisations. The community dimension includes issues such as the capacity and willingness to pay for the required service level, possibilities of national or international institutions to finance or co-finance the initial investment and the management capacity at local level. It also includes the possible existence of resources and of institutions that can provide support and assistance. Several participatory activities were developed by interdisciplinary groups of the Cinara Institute working with community based organisations and staff members of national and 207

international agencies during the gradual process of introducing MSF technology in Colombia (Garcia et al, 1997; Visscher et al, 1997). The positive impact of these activities seems to be supported by the fact that MSF systems introduced in the Cauca Valley are operating and performing well after several years of continuous operation under the control of local level organisations. Besides the water quality monitoring programme reported in chapter 4 of this thesis, 8 community-based organisations were contacted and some preliminary conclusions can be drawn from a survey report prepared by Rojas (1999) in co-ordination with the author and other staff members of Cinara. Some points are highlighted below. • Members of community-based organisations and local managers of WS systems have different levels of schooling, from uncompleted primary school up to superior degrees (university). All caretakers of MSF plants have less than five years of schooling. • Local managers and caretakers have been working with their WS system (including MSF) during last 4 to 17 years and 2 to 11 years respectively. In five of the 8 WS systems the same caretakers have been working with the MSF plants during the last 5 to 11 years. • In two systems the monthly family income was estimated at around 50 US$. In three in the range 110 to 130 US$. In one 190 US$. In two 3000 US$. The minimum salary fixed by the government in Colombia is 120 US$ approx. In six systems the users pay a tariff based on a fixed charge plus an overhead that depends on water consumption. The other two, having the lowest family income of contacted organisations, pay a fixed charge. • In six systems the monthly tariff paid by the families was in the range of 0.6 to 2 US$. In the other two it was in the range 35 to 50 US$. These tariffs represent around 0.9 to 2.5% of the income of the families. These percentages are inside the guidelines (1.5-2.5%) of EPA (1997) for small systems in the USA. However, tariffs do not cover the time spent by community leaders working for the systems. The tariff represents some problems in communities having families with the lower incomes. • Only in the two communities with the highest incomes do the tariffs cover both capital and running cost of WS systems. In the other six communities tariffs covers running cost with an overhead for minor improvements of the systems. The overhead is above 2000 US$ in two communities having the highest income values and above 200 US$ in other three communities. Management of WS&S systems at local level is a crucial aspect under the decentralisation process of the water sector in the Andean region. The managerial experience in these projects should be recovered in a more systematic way to be optimised and transferred to other communities in the region. These projects are contributing not only to improve public health but also self-esteem and capacities at local level than can be used in other sectors of development. According to WASH (1993), in contrast to other interventions in public health, WS&S interventions produce secondary benefits not necessarily related to public health. The environment, is the boundary that shapes the community and dictates the risks it faces and the local resources it can draw from to meet its needs. In water supply projects, these risks often relate to issues such as the available water resources, their pattern over the year, their level of pollution, sanitation practices of the community, and land and water use patterns. The possible effect a water supply system may have on the environment, for example by producing wastewater and chemical sludge, also needs to be reviewed. Furthermore, it is essential to gain a good insight into the level of contamination and the sanitary risks involved. The interface between the environment and the community 208