Integrated approach and innovation makes our post-earthquake WASH response a success

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28.02.2017 by Shreya Singh

In January 2017, a team of external evaluators carried out the end of project evaluation of the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) Water Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) project implemented in partnership with DCA from April 2015-April2016. The overall objective was to gather organisational learning from the response

The focus

The evaluation focused on DCA’s criteria of timeliness, appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of the intervention, compliance with government and international standards, role of local actors and partners and recommendation to help integrate the good practices and lessons in future interventions.

The process

The team did a briefing with DCA in Kathmandu, went to the field for site observation in Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Gorkha, and Dhading districts, and did over 50 key informant interviews with partners and people on NCAs’ roster in Norway, reviewed reports and held focus group discussions.

The impact

The project was able to reach over 100,000 beneficiaries and directly reached 27,000 people in the first 100 days. The project was well planned and implemented. The good beneficiary selection process since the onset helped the project in reaching the most vulnerable and needy communities. All the targets were reached and even exceeded in some cases. There was no duplication in activities.

Innovative ideas, good coordination with government line agencies, local actors and clusters; transfer of skills to the partners; integrated approach, interlinkage of thematic sectors and linking it with longer term developments were the highlights. The project reflected true partnership spirit and the partners gained new skills in WASH and Cash Transfer Programming. The changes at the field level seem to have a longer term impact. The improved sanitation facilities in schools can result in more families sending their kids to schools. The psychosocial component has helped in escalating the hygiene component and has organized women. They are now working in groups, which was not the case earlier. The post distribution monitoring revealed that 92% of the cash was used correctly for shelter. Many people reported improved household sanitation after the project.

On the organizational development level, the partner’s capacity and skills have considerably increased especially on WASH and cash as they are now able to approach and get grants from other bigger donors on their own.

The innovation

This project was innovative at various levels. It brought together the private sector in water system rehabilitation in Bungmati (Kathmandu Valley) which provided direct access for 6969 people with clean drinking water. DCA led the cash programming in Nepal and was one of the first agencies to distribute cash to the beneficiaries, that too by using mobile phone technology and partnering with Hello Paisaa, a private sector company. The partners were able to mobilize communities at a critical time in the VDCs that helped in effective implementation of the project. The psychosocial component and the hygiene awareness were integrated together which escalated the effect of the program. The mason trainings were done in collaboration with the local government authorities for more sustainability and quality. Electric pumps were used in collaboration with the Government electricity board to lift water from the source and provide access. Some household latrines were connected to biogas chambers. The project used digital post monitoring assessment which made it easier to monitor the progress of the project. The project adopted an integrated model even during the response phase.

The Challenges

The project went through some challenges that affected its effectiveness. It was the first time for the local partners to respond to such a large scale emergency. The communities were diverse and dispersed which made it difficult to monitor and follow international standards at the initial stage. Lack of WASH expertise in DCA and partners initially and no formal WASH training provided by NCA also meant that many of us had to learn on the job. The political instability in the southern plains and the economic blockade were a few things that highly affected the project.

Recommendations and the Way Forward

The evaluation recommended an integrated approach to WASH to be considered from the onset of the project and not have stand-alone interventions. The psychosocial interventions need to be prioritized right from the beginning of the disaster as this allows the project to gain community participation and ‘buy-in’ which are crucial to the rest of the work. Water User’s group need to be strengthened and linked with the forest user groups and greater female representation should be ensured. There should be technical cost options/cost benefits assessments. Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) should be fully and appropriately included within hygiene promotion strategy, kits and messages. Monitoring and evaluation are essential to measure impact and objectively to provide baseline data, inform future strategy and advocacy and meet donor new proposal and project reporting requirements (e.g. DFID, ECHO). There need to be links between WASH (Cluster) and Health (Cluster). Knowledge and Practice (KAP surveys should be conducted.