Tunisia: Care Water Projects
Some 100,000 Tunisians living in dispersed rural settlements are using wells and springs that have been improved with U.S. assistance. This report evaluates a series of projects conducted by Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere (CARE), with partial funding by A.I.D. and assistance from the Peace Corps, in which 600 existing Tunisian water sources were renovated. According to the report's project implementation section, the projects involved little local participation. To control water contamination, the springs and wells were enclosed with relatively low-cost technology requiring little maintenance. Subsequent sections describe the projects' impact on availability and use of potable water, health and quality of life, beneficiary participation, and local institutions. On the basis of Tunisian records and standards, about 75% of the project sites were not producing potable water. Only 50% of the project sites visited were fully operational and adequately protected from surface contamination. No relationship between the CARE water projects and a change in the incidence of water-related disease could be determined. A negative impact on health may have occurred where users discontinued their own disinfection practices thinking the water was safe when in fact it may have been contaminated because project-provided treatment had ceased. Although most local disinfection and health education teams established under these projects are still in existence, they have not generally been effective. Included among the lessons are: (1) future AID-supported water projects should concentrate on increased water quantity, dependability, and accessibility; (2) project design should reflect demonstrated community need rather than prepackaged donor solutions; and (3) UN water quality standards will have to be scaled down if ambitious potable water goals are to be met during the Drinking Water Decade (1981-90). The authors recommend that A.I.D. work with the Tunisian government to agree on a long-term public health strategy, experiment with alternative potable water technologies, and evaluate projects in a collaborative fashion. Various project-specific appendices are included.