October 20, 2009
September 2009 Progress Report: SWASH+ Central America Programs
The second phase of the School Water, Sanitation and Health (SWASH) Program in Central America will provide sustainable water supply, sanitation infrastructure, and hygiene educations to 58 schools in 25 municipalities in four countries of Central America—Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. The total number of students currently enrolled in the Phase 2 schools is 7,722.
The second phase of the School Water Sanitation and Hygiene program in Central America commenced in April 2009 with a second grant from GWC supported by Cargill and The Coca Cola Company Foundation. Schools programs continued to be implemented in Honduras and Guatemala and made significant progress despite the political uncertainties in Honduras, following the coup d’état on June 28th of this year. No new activities took place in El Salvador or Nicaragua in the first half of 2009, with the exception of the March Program Meeting in Nicaragua, hosted by CARE. CARE Nicaragua and CARE El Salvador completed all Phase 1 activities in 2008 and will complete all Phase 2 activities in the last quarter of 2009.
In addition, MWA in collaboration with the SWASH partners, CARE, Catholic Relief Service (CRS) and Water for People, developed a scale-up proposal which will be supported by the InterAmerican Development Bank and the The Coca Cola Foundation. This will allow the partners to significantly scale up their efforts in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Due to the political uncertainties in Honduras, it is unclear whether this grant will be used there. SWASH partners continue to collaborate and engage in active learning by visiting programs in other countries and encouraging dialogue across programs. In August 2009, the Program Secretariat led by Mark Duey and Diana Betancourt (Water for People) worked closely with UNICEF to plan and lead a Regional Symposium on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools. The symposium, held in Managua, was attended by more than 60 professionals from 15 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Many representatives from Ministries of Health and Education attended the seminar. The goal of the seminar was to highlight the need for more and improved investments in schools throughout the region.
World Water Corps has conducted monitoring and mapping exercises for all new and previous investments with CARE (El Salvador and Nicaragua), CRS (Honduras) and Water for People (Honduras and Guatemala). The mapping and monitoring with CRS Guatemala is planned for the last week of September 2009. Results from the exercise will be presented at the end of the year.
We observe that despite considerable efforts by all partners to engage governments and advocate for funding for schools, success has been spotty. Some partners have been able to leverage considerable support from municipal governments, while others find that it is difficult to sustain a high level of interest. GWC recommends that the partners make government engagement a priority for the next phase of SWASH if it is to be sustainably scaled up and the current investments made in school maintained for future generations of students.
CARE -El Salvador completed its Phase 1 schools with considerable support from the Government. However, it was unable to secure any additional funding for Phase 2 schools from the new government that was voted into power. In Phase 2, its efforts will be limited to two schools which will be completed by December 2009.
CARE-Nicaragua conducted no new infrastructure activities in 2009. However, it hosted the 2009 Program meeting and also helped plan and coordinate the Regional Symposium on School Water, Health and Sanitation held in August. In Phase 2, CARE will provide new infrastructure and training in four schools to be completed by December 2009.
Catholic Relief Service (CRS)
CRS Guatemala continues to work on Phase 1 schools which will be completed by September. CRS Guatemala and its local partner Caritas Verpaz, hosted the August 2009 Program meeting. In this period, CRS collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Plan International to train 400 teachers in the Municipalities of Rabinal and Cubulco. The teachers were trained in health, hygiene and environmental protection.
In Honduras, CRS is working with its local partner COCEPRADIL to implement SWASH in four schools. Unfortunately, a teacher strike following the coup d’etat, has caused school closures. Both partners are hopeful that despite this they will be able to complete the program by year’s end.
Water for People
At the end of June, Water for People- Guatemala had begun construction in many of its Phase 2 schools. Hygiene education activities had been conducted jointly with Ministry of Health officials and teachers at all Phase 1 and 2 schools. Construction will be completed in all 25 Phase 2 schools by December.
Water for People Honduras is targeting 21 schools in three municipalities in 2009. Municipal governments have promised substantial support to these schools. However, a teacher strike has caused schools closures. Staff still expects to complete construction in all schools by the end of 2009. However, if schools remain closed the students will not be able to complete the minimum number of days needed to complete an academic year.
Observations and Learning by Implementing Partners
- The private sector is an important ally in the program. Water for People-Guatemala has become involved in the Healthy Schools initiative, in which Colgate-Palmolive is providing soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and educational materials for training in schools of the all schools of the coverage area.
- For Healthy Homes and Schools Training, it is very important to involve the Ministry of Education’s Departmental Director to guarantee the participation of teachers.
- It is very important to remember that once teachers have been trained they need to provide training to students in a manner that allows continuation of learning. The post-training supervision process is very important.
- Teachers and parents are central to the continued supply of hygiene materials in the classroom. Infrastructure
- It is very important to share information with all stakeholders who work in the implementation of the program because sometimes they are able to support the program with nonfinancial resources and increase its coverage. That is the case in Chicorral village in Guatemala where another organization wants to support the construction of a well for the school.
- The recruitment of a civil engineer who will consult for Water For People Honduras has improved the quality of the infrastructure provision in the schools, which is done directly by parents who receive funds for construction. The consultant is able to provide expertise and supervise infrastructure works more closely. However, the relationship must be managed carefully so that the PTAs continue to feel ownership of the works. Organization and Implementation • The direct transfer modality (funds transferred by NGO to PTAs for construction of infrastructure) has strengthened some PTAs and allowed them to administer projects, but follow-on training is still recommended once the first transfer of funds has occurred. This training should cover basic financial management, using educational material that covers basic bookkeeping and calculator use (Water For People Honduras).
SWASH+ program partners reported significant challenges in the period. They include:
- The coup in Honduras was followed by teacher strikes, making it difficult to complete hygiene training and other programs. In addition, municipal governments are experiencing delays in funds transfers from the central government. The primary effect is on infrastructure because municipal governments had committed a percentage of funding for construction materials for schools. For example, the Mayor of Candeleria, who had previously pledged to support the schools program, has declined to sign a commitment for Phase 2 because of the crisis and uncertainty of funds transfer from the Central government.
- It has been a challenge to find innovative ways to motivate teachers to participate in training workshops. However, 400 elementary school teachers in the municipalities of Rabinal and Cubulco attended a series of ecological rallies that served not only to educate them in environmental and health related issues, but also inspired them to conduct similar activities with their students (CRS Guatemala). In general, some programs have found it difficult to coordinate with teachers who have many tasks and responsibilities In some cases only parents were involved in project activities (CRS Honduras).
- Due to the lack of skilled labor in some villages, it is important to train masons on appropriate technologies (Water for People Guatemala).
- Access to some communities has been difficult to due poor road conditions and may worsen during the expected periods of heavy rains in the coming months, which primarily affects construction (Water for People Honduras).
- Water quality in Phase 2 schools and communities was found to be poor, with both fecal coliform and excessive iron in the water supply in 15 of 21 Phase 2 communities in Honduras (Water for People), and in one school in Guatemala (Water for People). In addition, CRS found that water quality was poor in six schools that had been completed in Phase 1 and had instituted a water treatment program in the school. However, routine water treatment remains a challenge at most schools. SWASH partners are determining the best way to encourage schools to choose a technology that is appropriate and affordable at the school level.