Marc Sylvestre, Program Manager, IRHA
“Infrastructure development in project sites will bring change in terms of water supply, livelihood and improve the living conditions”
Marc Sylvestre, Program Manager at International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance (IRHA), recently visited the projects sites in Liwali IDP Camp, Bhaktapur and ViswoNiketan Secondary School, Tripureshwor to observe and interact with beneficiaries. SujataAwale talked with him about his first visit to the project sites, challenges and solutions. Excerpts:
How was your visit to the project sites?
I was very happy to visit sites of intervention of Emergency Rain Project. This is my first time that I got chance to understand closely the complex issues of the people in their daily lives. It was good to understand how GUTHI works on a daily basis with the community, with stakeholders, with local school and local authorities. I am amazed by the job that has been done so far. It was quite challenging and now we see them doing the job well.
What is the progress that you have seen in project sites?
We have done pretty much good work and I want to congratulate GUTHI for that. GUTHI handled the most difficult part to gain confidence with the community and building healthy relationship. We can say that it is a co-developed and co-construct project. It is inclusive project involving school authorities in each level of decision. Infrastructure development in project sites will bring change in terms of water supply, livelihood and improve the living conditions. I have been repeating in the technical visit with GUTHI that the assumption is to gain assurance from the community to make them capable of maintaining infrastructure and keep functioning for the long term.
Fig: Viswa Niketan Higher Secondary School
What are the problems and challenges have you seen in the project sites regarding maintaining water, sanitation and hygiene?
The challenge is of course the fact that we need more space to accommodate with sufficient sanitation facilities as WHO recommends one sanitation facility for 20 children. Often in such a dense and urban area it is difficult to reach that criteria but at least we need to move towards improvement of the sanitation issues of students and teachers. I think we need to take account of the earthquake as well. That brings fragility and such external factor needs to be integrated. So we will try to see the potentiality that exists to go beyond the ViswaNiketan School to keep it as a base. We incubate the knowledge experience-sharing platform for discussion. We can also improve the slum neighborhood as large amount of students come from there.
In Liwali camp, challenges are huge and numerous but what makes me optimistic is that our intervention of installing rainwater-harvesting tank and to restore ground water resources that has been designed for a long-term perspective. At least these infrastructures will allow certain amount of water to supply and based on this infrastructure we will help to cope with reconstruction work and getting back to normal state. It will take time normally but we hope that it can serve this purpose.
What are your suggestions to improve WASH issue in those areas?
I would say that the infrastructure improvement needs to be carried out in terms of constructing new latrines, new sanitation facilities. This should be again inclusive with community to raise awareness on the issues, train them on water, sanitation and hygiene practices and supported to improve the living conditions. It also need to make sure that all the necessary software are in place such as the local users’ committee; so that the investments made on infrastructure will run for long time and owned at the community level.
Infrastructure development is one component, which I would say, is the easiest part. The most challenging part of the development sector is to reach this appropriation by the community.
The project integrates components such as disaster risk management; through trainings of trainers that will reproduce their learning at the school and at the communities. The construction of infrastructure embedded to provide the local people with the income generating activities and economic development can also support to create small businesses.
What are your future plans?
Based on this first pilot project there is a room to scale up reaching out to more beneficiaries with the rainwater harvesting system, sanitation services and disaster risk management. And I think we will also try to reach out with donors and present them what have achieved.
I would like to congratulate GUTHI for accomplishing very difficult work. There are lots of external factors and constraints that blocks the implementation and progress of the project. But they were capable because of dialogue, communication, link and understanding at community level. Handling the project positively and resolving the issues were praiseworthy.
The project has been possible because of the support of Republic and State of Geneva and the City of Geneva. I am really thankful for their support and hopeful for the continuation to the next level.