Project Assistance Completion Report: Benin Rural Water Supply
PACR of a multidonor project, implemented in coordination with UNICEF and the Peace Corps, to improve water supply and sanitation in the Zou department in northern Benin. The report covers the period 8/80-9/92, including a 4-year suspension from 12/81-12/85. The project was a success. Reliable potable water sources were provided to 309 villages, vs. a target of 275, and villagers are maintaining their pumps from funds collected for this purpose, aided by the fact that initial maintenance costs for the India Mark II pump are low. Quantitative targets for latrine construction were achieved, and additional demand exists, though cost is a limiting factor to installation of family latrines. The project positively affected health/hygiene practices. All participating villages received training in social mobilization, pump maintenance, and health education, as well as educational materials on village hygiene, excreta disposal, latrine construction, and Guinea worm prevention. These aids have been used by village committees in both house to house demonstrations and public presentations. Although not originally designed to eradicate Guinea worm disease, following a 1986 World Health Assembly resolution on Guinea worm the project took the lead in helping the Government of Benin (GRB) hold a National Guinea Worm Eradication Conference and develop a national eradication plan. Guinea worm incidence in the six project districts declined approximately 80% (from 286.5 to 55.8/100,000) between 1988 and 1991, against a target of only 30%. This dramatic reduction is a good indicator that the target communities have adopted improved health practices and have abandoned traditional water sources for drinking. Evidence of improved hygiene practices is less strong, although evaluation reports do indicate a seemingly improved sanitary environment. The project attained a key objective when its participatory community development approach was adopted by the GRB as a model. The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Hydraulics has incorporated many project experiences into its planned reorganization of the Hydraulics Division, including heavy reliance on local NGOs to carry out community organization and health education campaigns; the strategy includes some, but not all, of the project's health education themes. Also, the two ongoing well drilling programs in the Zou department -- one in collaboration with UNICEF and the second with the Japanese government -- are using materials and methodologies developed under the project for the formation and training of village pump committees, although they do not include health education. The project teaches several lessons about multidonor projects. (1) Such projects require coordinated fielding of implementation teams; where USAID is the prime funding agency, its project design cycle should govern the timing of team deployment. Peace Corps volunteers should not be fielded until their jobs, logistics, and counterparts are defined. (2) The roles of participating agencies should be carefully planned and documented to avoid management conflicts. (3) Where UNICEF participates in a project predominantly funded by USAID, the coordinating responsibility must be shared equally, and all participating agencies should receive due credit for their contributions.