Meeting a Basic Human Need:

AID's Rural Potable Water and Sanitation Program

NSIAD-84-34: Published: Feb 21, 1984. Publicly Released: Feb 21, 1984.

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GAO reviewed the Agency for International Development's (AID) potable water and sanitation activities in Ecuador, Indonesia, Malawi, Peru, and Tanzania.

Between fiscal years 1978 and 1982, AID provided over $161 million in development assistance for water supply and sanitation improvements, mostly in rural areas. In each country, GAO specifically examined the extent to which: (1) assistance is reaching the intended users; (2) problems are being overcome; and (3) improvements in water quality and quantity are being measured. GAO found that low project priority in the host country, inadequate financial support, and cumbersome logistics contribute to slow progress. In Ecuador and Malawi, where there has been hosting country commitment and community participation, projects are being implemented nearly in accordance with plans. However, in Indonesia, Peru, and Tanzania, the development or improvement of basic water supply systems has been significantly delayed. GAO expressed concern that there was little information regarding improvements in water quality and quantity which have been made through U.S. assistance. GAO noted that studies by the World Bank concur with GAO observations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should direct that changes in the quality, quantity, reliability, and convenience of the water be identified at least when the systems are inaugurated. This could be accomplished through the use of portable test equipment to measure improved sanitary quality and sanitary surveys to also identify improvements in the quantity, reliability, and convenience of the water over the traditional sources of supply. The format of the surveys should be standardized throughout the agency to emphasize the importance of this activity and promote the pursuit of this type of surveillance.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should direct that operation and maintenance be given the same priority as construction of water supply and sanitation systems by implementing upkeep activities in tandem with the installation of the facilities. The operation and maintenance component should provide for: (1) adequate resources to meet recurring costs; (2) trained personnel to ensure that continued delivery of the intended level of service; and (3) user health education to promote continued upkeep. Inherent in such a program is the need to develop the institutional support necessary to carry these activities forward.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID officials told GAO that the agency fully considers and incorporates the recommendations of the report in project design and review deliberations.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should direct that implementation schedules objectively anticipate the common impediments to the timely installation of the facilities and the range of activities and services which can be accomplished and delivered during the life of the project.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should direct that project proposals objectively assess the resolve and capacity of the host country to implement and manage the projects and of communities to participate in installation activities.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should direct that project goals and periodic evaluations stress the importance of providing a clean, adequate, continuous, and accessible supply of water as a means to improved health. Achieving these improvements could be an objective and identifiable measure of successful projects. The agency should pursue the health impact of water and sanitation projects on a case-by-case basis where the circumstances particularly merit the expenditure of resources for this purpose.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

 

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