Sustainability Assessment for the Benin Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project
The sustainability of the Benin Rural Water and Sanitation Project, scheduled for completion 9/92, is assessed. The project has successfully constructed wells and demonstration latrines; provided training to village health committees, government extension workers, and pump repair workers; and provided health education in over 500 villages in the North Zou region of Benin. The project has also succeeded in setting up a maintenance system that depends upon private sector actions driven by market demand. The communities are responsible for managing their systems and for paying all costs of operation and repair, the latter being performed by regional repair workers using imported parts supplied by regional distributors. While the system is well established, it is fragile, and continued monitoring by the government is called for. A 9/91 final evaluation raised questions about sustainability. The assessment concludes that if the project ends in 9/92 as planned, it is probable that some pumps would fall into disrepair because of failures on the part of the community-level Comites du Development Socio-Sanitaire (CDSS's) to maintain their water systems. If more than 25% of the pumps should fail, the entire operations and maintenance (O&M) system would be jeopardized, because spare parts suppliers and repair workers would lose interest due to the lack of a sufficient market. A continuation for 2 years with significantly reduced activities would increase the sustainability of the benefits achieved to date. However, because such an extension would violate A.I.D. regulations forbidding projects longer than 10 years in duration, a new 2-year project, focused on consolidating gains already made in project villages rather than on extending boreholes or latrines to new communities, is recommended. The Peace Corps seems to be in the best position to manage the new project.