Planning successful water and sanitation projects

By Carolyn Crowley Meub, former member of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag) Board and Executive Director of Pure Water for the World, an organization started by the Brattleboro, Vermont Rotary Club

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erica Gwynn, Rotary’s Area of Focus Manager for Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) about the components of a successful global grant. During our interview, we didn’t just discuss global grants. We spoke during the holiday season, when food is part of many conversations. It was for this reason that Erica and I first started discussing cooking and favorite recipes.

As we moved onto the real purpose of the conversation, we discussed how recipes and global grants are similar. Both require time, the proper tools, and need to have all the key ingredients before you begin. When one cooks or bakes, we envision the end result. When designing a water and sanitation project, there are necessary steps to be taken and key programmatic elements are needed.  We must start with the end in mind.

Carolyn: What is the unique perspective Rotary members bring to global WASH projects?

Erica: Rotarians bring a unique perspective to the project that non-government organizations cannot. Rotarians have relationships with local leaders, and they know the needs and capacity of the community. Understanding the local culture, water sources and availability, and community resources are critical to the success of the project. Rotarians are key to the design, planning and forecasting.  The more we see local Rotarians’ involvement, the greater chance for the grant being approved.

Carolyn: What are the key ingredients in successful and sustainable WASH projects?

Erica:

  1. Engagement with the community from the beginning to end – from the needs assessment phase, to post-completion monitoring and evaluation phase.
  2. Engage with other organizations and local or regional governments. There needs to be integration with other existing programs. Rotary-funded programs are part of the greater whole, and there should a collaborative effort made with other entities. Rotarians need to be at the table with other organizations to address the WASH needs and the solutions.

Rotarians cannot work in isolation. We know that the “Rotary Bubble” is not sustainable.  We need to expand upon the other work that has been done in the area as to not be a “one-off” project.

Carolyn: How else can Rotary members get involved within the WASH sector?

Erica: I believe the strength of Rotary is the advocacy role they offer, that can influence decision-makers with making real systemic changes in the role of governments. Rotarians are in a unique position, as they have great and extensive networks. Rotarians have changed national agendas.

Read the complete interview on the Wasrag blog.

Wasrag is an international group of Rotarians, their family members, program participants and alumni with expertise and passion in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Wasrag advises on club and district WASH projects while offering a wealth of resources for enhancing initiatives. Visit www.wasrag.org to access resources, become a member, or request assistance.

Related: 

  • Read more stories about water and sanitation projects to gain inspiration for club and district service projects.

2 Replies to “Planning successful water and sanitation projects”

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