A JG Afrika groundwater project has brought a reliable supply of water to Habu, Botswana, while providing a reference for the imminent roll-out of more water-security measures in other rural areas of Botswana.
The project serves about 1 500 people and was completed by the firm’s Botswana office in partnership with local NPO, Initiatives. They were acting on behalf of the Paul G Allen Family Foundation through its Philanthropy programme.
Importantly, the project has again demonstrated that development initiatives in rural regions of southern Africa stand a greater chance of success when there is a larger overlap between the political, social and technical aspects.
“When the social considerations take the lead, there is usually greater interplay between the social and the technical components, as well as buy-in from the community,” says Robyn Tompkins, water, sanitation and health (WASH) development expert and an executive associate at JG Afrika Botswana.
The firm was appointed by Initiatives in December 2014 as the specialist WASH consultant to maximise the overall development impact of the project.
Work started on developing and negotiating an ownership, as well as an operation and maintenance model for the infrastructure. A formal hand-over protocol was also established for what would be a first of its kind in the country.
In addition, this process was aligned with state’s new policies to introduce water-user associations and committees in rural areas.
The proposal for government to take ownership of the assets that would be operated and maintained by a water committee and financed from tariffs collected from the community was accepted in August 2016.
Having now received the necessary political endorsement, JG Afrika could proceed with the social components. They took the lead, as success relied on the development of an effective governance system and toolkit to train the committee. Technical training in the basic maintenance of the infrastructure also took place at installation.
An umbrella committee was established to communicate with the broader community, and comprised representatives from all relevant organisations. A dedicated field-service support representative, fluent in Setswana, was also appointed to regularly engage the public.
In addition, budget was allocated to the establishment of a separate team dedicated to community-relationship building, as well as communicating with other agencies operating in the area.
The system comprises five tanks on stands that supply taps located at a central point for each of the five wards and the pumps are powered by solar energy.
While the manual system does not intimidate community caretakers it ensures they are in constant contact with the infrastructure.
The infrastructure can also be easily maintained and repaired by community members thus decreasing the overall unit costs of the infrastructure.
While creating many short-term employment opportunities in Habu, labour-based construction methods ensured that the population knew exactly where the pipeline had been laid to help maintain and avoid damaging the infrastructure.
The water committee comprises two caretakers and five water monitors who manage the volume of water collected by each household. Community members pay for their consumption by registering with a water association.
The Franklin Wells of the World Association was so impressed with the project that it donated the borehole infrastructure, allowing the project team to install two boreholes. This donation also meant that there was a slight underspend on the infrastructure allocation for the project, which was used to provide security fencing at the water point.