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Sustainability of Drinking Water Supply Projects in Rural of North Gondar, Ethiopia

Mengesha Admassu
Abera Kumie
Mesganaw Fantahun


Background: Safe water supply coverage in the rural areas of Ethiopia is very marginal. The coverage still remains very low because of limited progress in water supply activities in these areas. Factors affecting the continued use of the outcome of water supply projects in the background of limited resources are not well studied. Objectives: To assess the utilization, functionality, community participation and sustainability of water projects.

Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in 11 randomly selected Peasant Associations located in North Gondar using a pre-tested structured questionnaire in a total of 768 house holds in the months of December 2001 to January 2002. Six focus group discussions and 114 physical site observations were conducted to check the interaction and linkages within the hierarchies of project management and of water supply projects.

Results: Four hundred forty two (57.6%) households were using protected water sources. The average frequency of water collection was 2.04 times per day with the mean per capita water consumption of 6.68 liters per day. The duration of waiting time needed to collect water at the water points was positively associated with the respondents complains about the non-functionality of water points. Community participation as defined in terms of some kind of contribution to smallscale drinking water development was more associated with spring protections than hand dug well protection. Results from observational checklists showed that 77% of the protected springs and 52% of the hand-dug wells used to be none-functional at least once from the time when their service was commissioned. Only 30.0% of the visited small-scale water projects had guards, some form of fences, cloth washing stands, and animal water troughs that are positive efforts to the advantages of maximizing community services. While the existence of Water Committee and labor contribution were identified as strengths, lack of built in trust and poor coordination were cited as weakness in the focus group discussions.

Conclusion and Recommendation: Available water projects were not effectively used because of the existing user high demand in one hand, and frequent non- functioning schemes and poor project coordination on the other hand. Enhancing community participation in sustaining the functions of water supply projects and strengthening the technical and resource capacity of Woreda Water Desks are strongly recommended to sustain the community water services.

Ethiop.J.Health Dev. 2003;(3):221-229

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eISSN: 1021-6790