For a safe water project, the transition from being managed by Water Mission to being managed by the recipient community is the last step of a successful implementation. With more than 2,400 projects now being overseen by local Safe Water Committees (SWCs), Water Mission has a lot of experience with transferring project responsibilities. At the same time, a commitment to excellence pushes the organization to constantly improve the process.
One foundational belief that has shaped Water Mission’s implementation approach is that community investment and commitment to a project directly correlate to long-term sustainability. When community members embrace ownership, it indicates that the project will be properly managed long after Water Mission has moved on to new endeavors.
Water Mission currently provides a minimum of one year of follow-up support for recipient communities. During this time, staff members monitor the technical operation of the project and assist the SWC with management related needs.
To ensure long-term success, Water Mission integrates the following community development components into every project:
- A formal, community-led meeting is conducted to introduce Water Mission to the entire community. The project objectives and the expectations of each party are defined, and the concept of the SWC is discussed so that the community can elect their own committee.
- SWC training is broken into three different sessions covering roles and responsibilities, operational management, financial sustainability, money handling, accountability, and committee readiness.
- Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) training is conducted for all local leaders to further engage their support for the project. Community leaders and the SWC are tasked with recruiting volunteer WASH promoters for the community.
When implementation is completed, each community project is evaluated against Water Mission’s standards for reliability, water quality, financial stability, management capacity, and community awareness. If a project does not meet these standards, a customized follow-up and support plan, based on the gaps identified in the evaluation process, is developed and implemented. Water Mission is committed to working with communities until standards are met, at which time the transition of ownership can begin.
Community ownership helps guarantee the long-term success of a project. No matter where a project is located — from communities in Peru or Mexico, to those in Kenya or Malawi — success relies heavily on the buy-in of the beneficiaries. When the knowledge and resources needed to run a Water Mission safe water project are effectively transferred to the SWC, the committee is able to manage the project in a sustainable way and thrive for generations to come.
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