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5th International Conference on Rain Water Cistern Systems
"Rainwater Catchment for Future Generations"
Keelung, Taiwan, R.O.C. - August 1991

Section 6: Socioeconomic Aspects and Cost Analysis

Page 361

Financially Sustainable Gravity Fed Water Catchment Schemes In Kenya “Following A New Approach”

Janet K. Lugonzo-Campbell
Canadian Hunger Foundation,


In 1982, the Canadian Hunger Foundation (CHF) carried out a study of village water projects in Kenya to find out why they had such a high failure rate. Many of the projects studied had received donations from development agencies or NGOs which were used for the purchase and installation of materials. Ho ever, without a sound institutional framework, water would flow only for a short time much to the bewilderment of the donor, who would of understand why the project had 'failed'. The result would frequently be an evaluation seeking technical flaws that excludes 'an assessment of the institutional aspects. Repairs or modifications would then be carried out for the technical flaws, but water would still not flow continuously. Eventually, the donor would be come disillusioned and finally resign from the project.

The symptoms of institutional inadequacy were found to be

  • Poor Management skills 
  • Little or no organisational structure 
  • Lack of maintenance skills 
  • Absence of a sound financial plan of regular income and of administrative controls 
  • Absence of a sense of ownership of the water project by the community 
  • Ignorance of the skills and resources required to run a water project 
  • A 'charity' relationship between funding partner and the community groups

It was clear that the institutional requirements of village water projects had not received enough attention. All parties concerned had grossly underestimated what is required f r such projects to be successful and self-sustaining. It was apparent that a new approach was required. Thus the CHF embarked on the development of a new approach and used it to support a number of projects. In the case of the first CHF assisted project, the CHF commenced in 1984 and withdrew in 1987. By 1989, the group had a healthy bank balance, expanded their project by 100% and had built their own offices. It now serves as a model for other project development all over Kenya. It is the NGO which participated in the community's project not the other way round.

PDF of full document (7pp, 190kb)

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