Skat Consulting Ltd., in partnership with Swiss TPH, is implementing for SDC a drinking water supply programme in the Great Lakes region with the main objectives of improving the access to sustainable drinking water supply systems and respecting equal access to water of good quality of about 400,000 people in Rwanda, Burundi and the DR of Congo. The programme consist of the participatory planning and investment into new and extended water supply systems including the improvement of environmental sanitation and hygiene practices in the three countries. Additionally, the programme provides support for the establishment of sustainable management structures and exchange of knowledge and best practices among water and sanitation specialists. To achieve this, 4 outcomes are triggered: one with regard to physical access to water (water schemes rehabilitating & building), one focusing on capacity building in order to guarantee sustainable water services for all, a third one on awareness raising towards hygiene promotion and a last one aiming at capitalizing the best practices and lessons learnt with link to SDC’s policy dialogue.
PEPP’s intervention strategy consists of strengthening the decentralized services of the Ministries of Water and the local public authorities on the themes of planning, monitoring and management of water resources. At the same time, PEPP assists the operators in technical and cost-effective aspects of drinking water supply, and supports the districts/municipalities in terms of project management (planning and delegated management). The diagnosis of water infrastructure and services (leading to sectoral programs) and PEPP investments in the realization/rehabilitation of drinking water supply systems are the vehicle for this local capacity building. In the DRC (South Kivu), the approach focuses on the water supply of a peripheral district of Bukavu (Panzi) in partnership with Mercy Corps (IMAGINE project).
Regarding hygiene promotion, the PEPP pilots the approach of hygiene clubs in Burundi to share experiences with other actors, while in Rwanda, it supports the districts in the implementation of the national strategy in this area, while strengthening local partners. In the DRC, hygiene promotion complements the Mercy Corps activities in targeted schools in the Panzi district by implementing the government approach of “Ecoles Assainies”.
National level steering committees provide overall supervision, the strategic orientation, a consultation framework and the link to the countries’ policy dialogue for the PEPP. These steering committees are made up of representatives from the districts/province of intervention, deconcentrated services, national authorities and Swiss cooperation offices, with the PEPP serving as secretariat.
After having been forced to stop the Burundian component of the PEPP in late 2015 due to the prevailing conflict in the country, the Rwandan component of the programme progressed well during 2016/2017 and is now finalised. Mid-2017, eight rehabilitated, extended or new drinking water supply systems of a total of more than 200 km long and serving today about 94,000 people were successfully handed over to the district authorities for their management through the respective licensed private operators. In parallel, the population benefitting from this new access to good quality drinking water has been sensitized with regard to its sustainable use. Water users have been organised around water point committees and water system users’ associations that act as empowered counterparts to the operators. Finally, the endline surveys conducted have shown that the implementation of the Rwandan Community Based Environmental Health Promotion Programme as part of the PEPP has had a significant positive impact on the population’s hygiene behaviour and health in its districts of intervention.
At the end of the intervention, the PEPP can claim to have more than met the expectations of the agreement relating thereto between the Republic of Rwanda and the Swiss Confederation. On the one hand, the total budget implemented corresponds in the long term to CHF 8.7 million (compared to the announced CHF 7.1 million) with the added funds having been used to respond to requests for additional infrastructure from the two districts. On the other hand, the 8 water supply systems built or rehabilitated by the PEPP (instead of the 5-7 announced) will benefit ~ 154,000 people in 2035 compared to the 120,000 targeted. Finally, after the expiry of the 12-month guarantee period without negative findings or corrective actions, on October 2, 2018, the final delivery ceremony of the systems to the project owners (Rusizi and Nyamasheke districts) took place.
More recently, also the DRC component focusing on supplying water to a poor peripheral district of Bukavu (Panzi) and serving about 102,000 people there could be brought to an end. On November 15, 2018, the works (spring catchments, supply mains and reservoirs) were handed over to the provincial authorities at the occasion of the last National Steering Committee of PEPP. The event also acknowledged the hygiene promotion interventions ran in schools of Panzi by piloting successfully the national approach of “Ecoles Assainies” for the first time in an urban setting.