2012 Uganda: WASH Initiative for the Rural Poor in 21 Districts in Uganda: End of Term Evaluation
Author: Narathius Asingwire, PhD
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This end of project evaluation of the “Sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Initiative for the Rural Poor in 21 Districts in Uganda” was carried out in May and June. The evaluation focussed on assessment of the project’s relevancy, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability vis-à-vis the 3 objectives that the project aimed at realising, namely, (i.) reduced mortality and morbidity due to WASH related diseases, (ii.) accelerated progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) drinking water and sanitation target, and (iii) increased access to integrated WASH services. Out of these three broad objectives, the project had four result areas that included (i) increased access to latrines in the rural population by 5 percent, (ii) hygiene practices improved by 25 percent, (iii) a total of 210,750 new users gain access to safe water, and (iv) institutional development and strengthening of policies, guidelines, and advocacy. To achieve the desired results, UNICEF planned to implement several WASH activities in schools and communities including construction of latrines for demonstration purposes, construction of water facilities, promotion of hygiene practices and institutional development.
The project aimed to realize the following three objectives: 1) reduced mortality and morbidity due to WASH related diseases, 2) accelerated progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) drinking water and sanitation target, and 3) increased access to integrated WASH services. Out of these three broad objectives, the project had four result areas that included (i) increased access to latrines in the rural population by 5 percent, (ii) hygiene practices improved by 25 percent, (iii) a total of 210,750 new users gain access to safe water, and (iv) institutional development and strengthening of policies, guidelines, and advocacy.
A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods was adopted in carrying out this evaluation. Out of 21 districts project districts, 10 were selected for in-depth assessment. Selection of the studied 10 districts was largely guided by the activities implemented across the project area and regional representation. Study participants included household members, school pupils, members of water and sanitation committees (WSCs), school authorities, technical staff at district and sub-county level. Other participants included the Sub-county chiefs, Local council (LC) III chairpersons, LCV chairpersons or their deputies. Random sampling techniques were used in the selection of 504 household respondents in 20 sub-counties and 151 pupils in 5 schools. Purposive sampling was employed in selecting stakeholders at national, district and sub-county levels, including members of water and sanitation committees (WSCs), school authorities, technical staff at district and sub-county level. Other participants included sub-county chiefs, local council (LC) III chairpersons, LCV chairpersons or their deputies.
Quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection were used. Quantitative data was collected using structured questionnaires and observation checklists that were administered at the household and school level. Quantitative data provided a descriptive summary of the extent to which the project objectives were achieved. Qualitative data was collected using unstructured interview and focus discussion guides administered to technical staff at the district and sub-county levels, as well as school and health facility administrators in sampled study sites.
Findings and Conclusions:
Relevance. Relevance refers to the extent to which the objectives of the project were consistent with the beneficiaries' requirements, country needs, global priorities and partners' policies. The project was very relevant as its goal was contributing to the realization of the national WASH goals and objectives in the then Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) and later the National Development Plan (NDP). The project complimented Government of Uganda (GOU) programs such as the Peace, Recovery and Development Program (PRDP) and the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) II both intended to support the northern region's recovery from the effects of the conflict. The project targeted an essential area of need (i.e., safe water, sanitation and better hygiene practices), critical in reversing child morbidity and mortality.
Effectiveness. The evaluation found a high degree of effectiveness as reflected by registered achievements in the planned hardware and software WASH activities. Supported districts designed and constructed 66% of the planned model/demonstration latrines mostly at schools and health centres. All contractors delivered the agreed-on five-stance latrine blocks with adequate privacy and hand-washing facilities for targeted schools. Activities such as sensitizations on WASH services and activities were effectively conducted targeting communities, political, religious and cultural leaders through advocacy workshops. Through the project, local artisans and staff of partner NGOs were trained on implementation of WASH activities.
Efficiency. The increased access to safe water from all the functional sources constructed demonstrated the cost-effective nature of the WASH project. In regard to sanitation facilities, in the face of fast filling pit latrines and in areas with weak and collapsing soils, UNICEF adopted a new technology for pit latrine construction (i.e., lining up the walls), which saved money and prevented the sides from collapsing.
Drawing from the findings, it is evident that project supported districts have better O&M of water facilities, all newly constructed and rehabilitated water facilities have remained functional throughout the project life. For the water facilities to remain functional, the high standards exhibited in O&M needs to be upheld. Similarly, to ensure that communities that have been supported to become model villages with regard to hygiene and sanitation do not slacken, the need is to sustain and scale up sensitization and community sanitation mobilization campaigns to even cover other communities.
Sustainability and scale up of sanitation and hygiene will involve:
* Sustaining active involvement of VHTs and engaging of political leaders to endear them to be exemplary cases
* Political support and enforcement – there is a need for regular hygiene and sanitation advocacy meetings with LG political leaders
* Districts need to be supported to disseminate and enforce sanitation bye-laws.
* Some project activities, especially under sanitation, require more frequent follow-up and intensified in places such as Karamoja
* To further support ODFC there is a need for sustained monitoring to track the outcome of ODF.
To ensure sustainable O&M the following should be done:
* Continued strengthening of LGs technical capacity to support monitoring and mentoring of WSCs. and also building capacity for new districts to manage water facilities.
* Train new WSCs and provide refresher training at least after every two years of their formation. Support and empower trained WSCs to enact and enforce bye-laws for O&M of water facilities. Sub-counties should have adequate budget to fund training of WSCs and monitoring visits and provide back-up support to WSCs.
Beneficiary involvement in project implementation and monitoring, partnership with local government, private contractors and other partners (NGOs) and combining capacity building with service delivery are evidently good practices that characterized the project. Lesson learnt from implementing the WASH project include the following:
* Leadership and effective participation of local leaders in project implementation is critical not only in ensuring smooth undertaking of activities but also eventual sustainability.
* The WASH project component in schools was meant to create awareness among school children as a way of promoting good sanitation and hygiene practices at school and home. By creating awareness, children became change agents with regard to improved household sanitation and hygiene.
* Provision of sanitation facilities especially the construction of latrines contributed greatly to increased school attendance of pupils. This was reported to be particularly so for girls in upper primary.
* Formation and training of WUCs is critical for sustainable O&M of water facilities. WUCs need regular monitoring i.e., to be refreshed on their roles and function, which is critical for the functionality of the committees.
* Existence of trained and retooled hand-pump mechanics is a critical requirement in sustainability of boreholes.
* Private sector and NGOs unlike government agencies can be very efficient and effective in implementation of WASH activities.
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