Community organisations

In rural areas, the two main stakeholder organisations at community level in OWNP implementation are the WASH Committee (WASHCO) and Health Development Army (HDA). (You read about these in Study Sessions 7 and 6 respectively.)

Can you explain the difference between the HDA and WASCHCOs?

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The HDA is a team of up to 30 households in the same neighbourhood. These teams comprise ‘1 to 5 networks’ which each consist of six team members, led by a model family with women representatives from five other families. The HDA works with Health Extension Workers (HEWs) to motivate families to adopt healthy behaviour. WASHCOs are a team composed of 5–6 members of a community who look after a specific water point. They are responsible for the overall operation and maintenance of the water scheme.

Each are involved in different but related aspects of the OWNP. In some locations, associations of WASHCOs are expected to plan, manage, operate and maintain water points. Health Development Armies are responsible for planning, managing, operating and maintaining household and public latrine sanitation facilities in their kebele. Members of the HDA working with HEWs are important in promoting sanitation and hygiene practices among households in communities.

Community ownership and management of the improved WASH facilities is important for enhancing impact and sustainability; a principle that is clearly illustrated in Case Study 9.1.

Case Study 9.1 Dalocha Women Water Development Association

Water supply in the Dalocha woreda, in the Silti Zone of the SNNPR has been greatly improved since the development of the Dalocha Women Water Development Association (DWWDA). The DWWDA has been responsible for water supply in the woreda since 1998. The water system has a network of three springs, seven boreholes, eight reservoirs, 75 km of pipeline and 48 water kiosks serving over 127,000 people (Figure 9.4). The unusual aspect of this project is that it is managed and led entirely by women. The project was initiated by the INGO ActionAid with the approach that, as women had responsibility for fetching water, they would be more concerned about the proper functioning and sustainability of the water system. They established an organisational structure for the DWWDA that consists of a General Assembly with 178 women and an Executive Board of 16 women drawn from the General Assembly representing the 16 Water Committees responsible for managing day-to-day matters. ActionAid provided regular training for the women in basic literacy and in more specialised subjects of management and administration, financial regulations, water regulations, water and health, gender and protection of the water network.

Figure 9.4 Women fetching water from a DWWDA water kiosk.

This improved water supply project has brought many advantages, including better health for all. Women no longer have to spend hours fetching water, and girls’ school enrolment has increased. Encouraging these women to take leadership roles has also brought other significant benefits. The DWWDA is recognised as a significant stakeholder in the woreda. Despite initial scepticism from some communities and officials, the women have demonstrated their capabilities as managers and leaders over several years. This has empowered them to take on other roles and has changed attitudes to women’s capabilities in communities and in homes. The DWWDA has been so successful that it has been used as a model for other projects, and ActionAid has started ten similar women-led water development associations elsewhere in Ethiopia (Berhane, 2014).

(Adapted from Pratt and Earle, 2004 and ActionAid, 2012)

Which of the principles and cross-cutting issues that you have read about so far in this Module are demonstrated in Case Study 9.1?

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Gender mainstreaming is clearly a dominant feature of this story, with women leading the association. The success of the association over several years indicates it is a sustainable scheme. It is clearly a decentralised and participatory project that has empowered the women in the communities. Training and capacity building has enabled the women to take on new responsibilities and be successful leaders and managers.

Last modified: Wednesday, 24 August 2016, 4:38 AM