Author: Sonko, B. L.; Jallow, M. S.
In commissioning this study, UNICEF seeks to assess the impact of its activities in the WES sector. Although evaluation studies and reviews exist for the different phases of UNICEF's cooperation programme with the Gambia Government, there is no study exclusively devoted to the WES sector covering the entire period of UNICEF's intervention (1983 to-date). Such a study is necessary to determine the impact of the interventions, the successes and weaknesses, which can provide useful lessons as UNICEF moves into a new approach to programming, with greater emphasis on sustainability and a gender-balanced approach.
Purpose / Objective
UNICEF commissioned the present study with the objective of assessing the impact of UNICEF's support to the Gambia Government in the water, environment and sanitation (WES) sector since 1983. The evaluation study had the following specific purposes:
- To assess impact of intervention in improving sector planning, development and monitoring
- To assess impact in improving coordination and collaboration with other actors in the water/sanitation/environmental sub-sectors
- To assess the situation regarding UNICEF's contribution to the overall achievements in reducing access gaps in national/institutional water and sanitation coverage
- To assess the situation regarding UNICEF's contribution in promoting use of energy-saving cooking devices, thus reducing environmental degradation
- To assess the contribution of increased public awareness and improve practices in school and selected 150 communities on hygiene, primary environmental care and water-related issue
- To assess the status, usage and maintenance of WATSAN facilities provided
Desktop review to gather background information on WES programmes in The Gambia
Field visits to UNICEF project sites to assess the physical state of the project infrastructure and to discuss with UNICEF staff, partners and users. The consultants covered the whole country in two weeks.
Interviews with representatives of Government agencies, Non-Government Organisations and other donor agencies, including the UN system that provides support to the sector
Key Findings and Conclusions
UNICEF's contribution to capacity building:
The Water and Sanitation Working Group (WSWG) greatly improved coordination and collaboration among the various actors. However, these achievements could be enhanced by having all key actors, particularly external support agencies (ESAs), participate and support the WSWG. Another important challenge is the strengthening of the divisional structures. Training as part of the capacity building was also received. The training included both technical training for construction workers (well digging, borehole drilling and latrine construction) and training aimed at sensitizing and creating awareness among extension agents and local communities on environmental sanitation.
Finally, UNICEF contributed to policy formulation and sectoral strategy developments through the sponsorship of workshops/seminars, and studies, which contributed to some of the Government's current policies and programmes.
UNICEF's contribution in improving access to water supply and sanitary facilities:
In the area of water supply in the lower basic schools, access to safe water supply is currently estimated at 78 percent, with important regional variations. Whilst Banjul area has 100 percent access, in URD it is only 60.7 percent. At national level, access to safe drinking water is estimated at 84 percent, which is a marked improvement since 1983 when the estimate was 35 percent.
In environment sanitation, there were also some important achievements. However, the number of donors is smaller in sanitation, and the perception of excreta disposal as a problem was not readily appreciated. Once this initial hurdle was overcome, the number of pit latrines grew and, presently, access at the lower basic schools is 68.9 percent whilst in the basic cycles, access is 82.8 percent. In both water supply and sanitary facilities, there still exist important gaps at national level.
Technical assessment of the facilities:
The well designs were found to be satisfactory and the wells themselves in good condition, with adequate water column for all times. However, the super structures, especially for the wells constructed between 1992-1996, need some repairs to avoid leakages/seepage with the possibility of contamination. There are different types of hand pumps in use but the most resistant and adaptable to the Gambian conditions is the Pb. Mark II. Furthermore, the Local Area Mechanisms (LAM) received their training on this type of hand pumps. There is a need to strengthen the maintenance system with the participation of local communities.
The design of the sanitary facilities was also satisfactory although some form of protection of the ground around the pits is necessary. The cubicles also need some improvement particularly in the area of lighting and ventilation.
Social aspects of WES services:
Linking education, water and sanitation had a number of advantages/benefits for the children as it promotes improved personal hygiene and general cleanliness of the school (absence of excreta in the school yard and surroundings). Such improvements cannot fail to impact on the local communities especially where children without sanitary facilities at home return after school to use the facilities.
Community participation was also reviewed in terms of their decision-making, supervision and cost sharing. It is important to note that there's still more to be done in this area in terms of sensitisation and capacity building to enable the communities and their institutions to fully assume their responsibilities and play their role. The level of community participation is very much limited because of limited capacity and awareness. This partly explains their limited involvement in the school water supply system when it breaks down.
Finally, there is the issue of women's participation. Despite their pivotal role in providing water for the family and keeping the house clean, women do not play a significant role in the management of the facilities. This is a situation that needs to be addressed urgently.
Strengthening the WSWG
The WSWG, in the light of its important coordinating role, should be strengthened by:
- recognizing it explicitly as a sub-committee of the Technical Committee of the NWRC responsible for coordinating water and sanitation matters
- insisting on the participation of various actors in the sector, particularly the ESAs who should also provide some material and financial support
- making respect for the decisions of the WSWG mandatory
- strengthening the supporting institutions, particularly at the divisional level
Greater Donor Support to the School Water Supply
There is a need for more donor intervention in the provision of water supply facilities in schools. Whilst UNICEF should be encouraged to continue for at least sometime, a more serious effort should be made by the Government to attract other donors so that the remaining gaps can be filled quickly.
The promotion of Energy Saving Cooking devices should be strengthened and expanded to other areas such as NBD, where deforestation is most severe in the country.
Continued Support for the Schools and the Communities
In the light of the existing gaps in access to sanitary facilities, there is a need for continued UNICEF support targeting less favourable areas. The case of the urban poor is also important since they have not benefited from any programme in the past.
Greater Sensitisation of Local Communities
Because of the critical role of the local communities in the provision and maintenance of these facilities, their participation is absolutely necessary. There is, therefore, a need for greater sensitization and capacity building for a greater and more effective community participation. UNICEF's support in this critical area should continue if the communities are not to lose the benefits of safe water supply.
Development of a Strategy
In view of the close relationship between water supply and environmental sanitation, it may be necessary to have an overall strategy for the entire sector, which takes account of the sub-sectoral priorities and strategies in the wider development framework of the sector.
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Water and Environmental Sanitation
Government of the Gambia