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Evaluation report

2000 MLW: UNICEF Malawi End Review Report: Norwegian Agency For Development Aid Supported Vonder Shallow Wells Borehole Project

Executive summary


With assistance from the Norwegian Agency for Development Aid (NORAD), the Vonder Shallow Well Borehole Project began implementation in 1997 with the overall goal of achieving a significant reduction of water borne diseases in the districts of Mangochi, Nkhata Bay and Mzimba. UNICEF and the Malawi government engaged four NGOs - Canadian Physicians for AID and Relief (CPAR), Africare, Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) and World Vision International (WVI) - to implement the project in 400 target communities.

Purpose / Objective

The purpose of this evaluation is to document and incorporate lessons learned in the past three years into a new proposal to be submitted to NORAD.


The methodologies used for the evaluation were: meetings with NGOs and government counterparts; 12 community-based focus groups - 3 in each of the NGO impact areas; 5 district focus groups; data collected from health centres, district and regional health offices; and a desk evaluation of NGO, UNICEF and government reports. NGOs were asked to choose both successful and unsuccessful sites for the focus group discussions.

None of the NGOs had readily available baseline data, although they were aware something had been done prior to implementation. UNICEF had no records of baseline study, with the exception of an early ADRA report presented in a workshop in Zomba, April 1998. The MoWD baseline assessment could not be found in programme records.

The project is measured against the planned objectives and presented under key UNICEF programming strategies. The concluding remarks consider three areas: cost-effectiveness, health impacts and sustainability.

Key Findings and Conclusions

The project was successful in achieving the following outputs:
373 water points were successfully constructed (93% of target achieved)
373 boreholes installed with VLOM pumps (9 by Malawi Direct Action and 364 by Afridev)
319 wells were drilled with the Vonder rig technology (85% achievement rate)
8,787 sanitation platforms were cast for improved latrines (87% of the target set)
383 communities mobilised for hygiene education (95% achievement rate)
381 committees were trained in VLOM, approximately 4,191 people

Inappropriate application of drilling technology in certain target areas led to many failed sites, especially in Mpherembe, Mzimba District. It appears that the hydrogeological assessment was not adequate in determining recommendable sites for vonder drilling. Most failed sites were abandoned, with the exception of ADRA sites where fifty-four wells were hand dug.

Delays by UNICEF in the procurement of equipment, materials and supplies affected the project throughout the implementation cycle. The outcome was insufficient amount of supplies were used in construction, in particular cement, and some sites were vandalised while waiting for materials.

Delays in financial liquidations by implementing agencies affected implementation during the early stages. MoWD had an outstanding liquidation for most of the 1997/1998 fiscal year, resulting in unavailability of resources for monitoring.

Transport difficulties, including inappropriate vehicle choices, were noted. The vehicles provided by the project had limited use because they did not have four-wheel drive. Many bicycles provided by the project were inoperable because there were no spare parts available.

Poor supervision and follow-up by both extension workers and NGO field staff affected the quality of implementation in terms of civil works, community commitment to sanitation promotion and hygiene behaviour change. The main cited reasons were unavailability of transport, lack of motivation by extension workers and no uniform procedure for collecting and documenting data.

Sandy soils caused latrines to collapse, which was a major constraint in sanitation promotion. To avoid collapsing pit latrines, households had to line pits with bricks or weave baskets, increasing the time and cost to construct a latrine.

Capacity Development at National, District Assembly and Village Levels:
Information on key project indicators were difficult to collect because no formal system of community-based monitoring had been established by NGO project staff and extension workers. Moreover, the initial baseline information from NGOs was also not available. As a result, large discrepancies existed in the information collected, depending on the origin of the source. Overall, it was noted that monitoring throughout the project cycle was very weak.

Project management has generally improved over the three years project duration, and the capacity of district assemblies to support implementation has increased. Of the four NGOs, CPAR made a deliberate effort to support district capacity development through supporting the DEC. From focus groups, it appears that this was successful in improving the capacity for project delivery and similar efforts among all implementing agencies should be encouraged. Furthermore, district coordination teams felt that they should have had a greater involvement in project development and planning. There is also a need to examine budget allocations for counterpart monitoring and, where possible, a greater sharing of resources between NGOs and government counterparts should be encouraged.

Catalytic Support to Expansion of Service Delivery:
Many gains in water supply and sanitation coverage were offset by increased population growth in the target areas. A greater investigation into population growth in light of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is necessary. It was found that HIV/AIDS affected the project primarily in two ways: high staff turnover and low community participation. The need for integration of HIV/AIDS awareness activities in WES initiatives was recommended by NGO and government partners.

The vonder rig technology has a comparative advantage of providing communities water supply at lower costs than mechanical drilling. However, the poor application of the technology in areas where it was not suitable, compounded by a poor hydrogeological assessment, has given both communities and implementors a bad opinion of the vonder rig. In future, greater attention should be paid on how this technology is introduced to district assemblies and communities. This will be important to ensure that the limitations are well understood and that the technology is used only in areas where it is appropriate. Greater collaboration and monitoring by NGOs with MoWD would assist in better application and usage of the vonder rig.

Empowerment of Communities and Households Through Participatory and Gender Sensitive Approaches:
Gender equity was addressed in the project through an affirmative action to reserve 60% of positions in the VHWCs for women, and then later the provision of gender awareness in CBM training. It was found that while women's participation was high, especially in traditional areas of construction and maintenance of water point, male participation was low. Women in the focus groups noted that low male participation was a constraint in vonder rig drilling. To promote a more equitable workload between men and women, the focus on gender equity should examine ways of improving male participation. Equally important is the need to increase women's representation in project management and as field workers.

In conclusion, the findings from the focus groups, project reports and health data indicate that there is a progressive trend toward improved health, hygiene and sanitation in the three project districts. In terms of cost-effectiveness, the use of the vonder rig was a lower-cost option for providing water supply to target communities. However, this should also be weighed against the costs to the community in terms of labour, delays in procurement and poor hydrogeological assessment. San plat training over provision also appears to be another cost-effective approach for sustaining sanitation coverage. Beyond the provision of water supply, hygiene and sanitation, this project has improved the capacity of NGO and government counterparts to deliver and sustain development initiatives.


With operational support from UNICEF's SPAC programme, a comprehensive integrated monitoring and evaluation plan (IMEP) could be created that would link individual project objectives to overall programming and sector goals. Equally important is the development of a uniform baseline study, strict reporting guidelines, and community-based indicators. UNICEF has a number of globally-developed guidelines to improve sector monitoring and planning. Healthy, Hygienic, Happy (HHH) Communities is one such series with potential application to a future initiative. An increased allocation for bicycles and spares, and obligatory monitoring reports will also ensure that monitoring is periodic and documented by extension workers.

PHAST training for extension workers and VHWCs would assist in the development of simple and measurable indicators for monitoring. The participatory nature of the training would also engage VHWCs to come up with indigenous intervention strategies for sanitation and hygiene behaviour change. Community involvement in identifying key practices and finding solutions are the founding principles of PHAST (participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation). The MoHP has recently initiated a national PHAST team to train district teams. To date, four districts have been trained: Dowa, Lilongwe, Zomba and Salima. The results, so far, are encouraging within target districts, as sanitation coverage has risen from 38% to 70% in target areas.

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Report information





Water and Environmental Sanitation

NORAD, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, Africare, Adventist Development Relief Agency, World Vision International


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