Water supply utilities and small community water supplies worldwide are currently faced with a challenge of providing adequate safe drinking water for their client. This is attributed to the following facts: increased pollution, contamination from human waste excreta and others, population growth and unplanned urban settlement and climate change. Furthermore, safety of improved water are neglected due to lack of awareness among those managing and operating water utilities and small community water supply about the risk of contamination and pollution any point in time in addition to the old legacy of testing quality of finished water product which is common in the case of water utility. Consumers also in most case believe that once the water source is improved they will take for granted the water is safe in developing countries.
World Health Organization recognized these challenge came up with solution during the revision of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality leading to the 3rd edition in 2004, the value of the Water Safety Plan (WSP) approach. Water Safety Plans are a comprehensive risk assessment and risk management approach from catchment to consumer, with the aim of consistently ensuring the safety and acceptability of a drinking-water supply as part of ongoing drinking water supply operation and maintenance.
Though, since the introduction of WSP different countries implemented it as a pilot only four countries in Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi).Thus, Water safety plan conference was held with the purpose to promote and advocate the importance of WSP in the East Africa context among decision makers and practitioners though the participants were from all corner of the world. Over 256 participants from 60 countries attended the conference of this Ethiopia was also represented by six participants designated from MoWE, CoWASH, and Drop of Water and WHO were attended the conference.
The theme of the conference was water quality and public health with highlight on practices and policies including demonstrable impact on service delivery levels, drinking water quality and public health. With these goal the following area of water quality and public health linkage were addressed during the conference.
- Water Safety Plan implementation
- Household Treatment and Safe Storage
- Risk Assessment / Risk Management
- Source protection
- Health Impact Assessments for Water Quality Interventions
- Innovative Policies and Regulations for Drinking Water Quality
- Operation and Maintenance of Water Supply Systems
- Risk-based Investment Planning for Water Supply Systems
- Community Managed Water Supplies
Realizing the importance of Water Safety plan implementation, DOW signed an MOU with Norwegian church Aid, World Health Organization and REST to pilot the initiative in Hentalo Wajerate woreda of Tigray region.
Objectives of the project
- To understand the existing water supply system and the KAP of the target community with respect to WSP and implementation
- To develop WSP in SCWS in Hentalo Wajerate Woreda of the Tigray Regional State, and implement WSP in SCWS in Hentalo Wajerate Woreda of the Tigray Regional State through full involvement and participations of the community, government and REST.
- To develop and document lessons in a systematic and scientific method that can be utilized for scale-up in the country.
Expected Project Results
To engage, empower and guide communities in the development and implementation of water safety plans (WSPs) for their drinking-water systems. It is providing guidance on how to apply effective and achievable management actions in order to improve the safety and quality of supplied water at scale. Relevant to all community-managed systems, it is applicable to piped schemes, point sources such as hand pumps, protected springs, bore hole and other sources. Some of the specific outputs from the implementation of this pilot project are as follows;
- Availing the baseline and end line survey report document
- Locally sound WSP manual will be in place
- Lessons, best practices will be documented through the regular monitoring of the pilot project
- 30 trained WSP team will be in place at each three scheme
- Detail safety plan per each scheme will be documented
- Six staff from Woreda sector office and partners will capacitated on the WSP
Water Safety Plan Implementation Accomplishments
Drop of Water (DOW), to contribute its part for the effort to achieve the pre described goals in WASH sector had been engaged in implementation of different projects in Tigray region. DOW implement projects in partnership with Relief Socity of Tigray (REST). The organization using WASH fund obtained from WHO and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), has been found in piloting of water safety plan (WSP) project in Hentalo Wajirate Woreda of Tigray region since September 2013. DOW implements the project in partnership with local stakeholders that include Woreda water resource Health and REST. Which DOW believes that the learning’s from the pilot will significantly contributes for the wider goal in the sector through scaling up in other community. Moreover WSP as new approach for WASH interventions further enhances technical capacity of stakeholders to mainstream water safety plan in small community interventions during planning and implementation.
- As part of standard project planning and outcome measurement procedure, DOW has conducted WSP baseline survey in its operational area. As there is no specifically similar study conducted in the area that shows the different standard indicators, DOW and its funding agencies considered as important both for planning of interventions as well as to measure final changes. For the purpose, DOW had contracted with professional legal consultancy firm (ElnaMaZ public health consulting) to conduct the survey. Accordingly, the firm in collaboration with DOW had conducted the actual field baseline survey as per the set standard and scope work from September 18-22, 2013 in three water point user communities of Hentalo Wajirate Woreda.
NOTE: The project implementation is in its early stage, and execution of actions as per the plan is on progress.