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Impact evaluation of drinking water supply and sanitation programmes in rural Benin

The Risk of Vanishing Effects

In the period 2008–2010, the Evaluation Departments of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in cooperation with KfW Entwicklungsbank jointly conducted an impact evaluation of the rural water supply and sanitation programmes in Benin being supported by the donor community. The supported programmes aim to contribute to the achievement of the 7th Millennium Development Goal target ‘to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015’.

The purpose of the impact evaluation is to account for the substantial support provided for rural water supply and sanitation (WSS) programmes in rural Benin as well as to be a useful reference for water supply and sanitation policy development in the future. The study has been undertaken in close consultation with Beninese authorities and partner organizations, particularly the DG Eau, Hygiene and Basic Sanitation Authority (DHAB- Ministry of Health), the Netherlands Embassy and German development cooperation in Benin.


Main findings:

1.   A considerable share of new water points is allocated to localities with more than one improved water point and already adequate service levels, being mostly larger and wealthier localities. Realisation rates of projected new water points are modest. Nevertheless, Benin is on track to achieve its MDG coverage target for improved rural water points.

2.   The provision of new water points leads to a substantial increase in the use of improved water points as the main source of drinking water, both during the dry season and the rainy season and both for non-poor and poor households. It also substantially increases the number of litres per capita per day collected, although poor and large households consume less per capita. Nevertheless, a considerable share of households continues to use traditional water sources, instead of or in addition to the newly installed water point.

3.   At source, water from improved sources is of much better quality (in terms of E. coli contamination) than water from traditional sources. However, this quality difference practically vanishes at point of use as a result of recontamination during transport and storage. Rainwater at point of use has the same quality as water at point of source from an improved source. The impact of water point installation on point-of-use quality is thus close to zero. Improved and new household storage containers strongly reduce point-of-use E. coli contamination.

4.   A new water point considerably reduces the time taken to collect water, particularly for communities that have obtained an improved water source for the first time. However, water collection time is still substantial in many localities because of queuing. As women bear the responsibility of water collection in households, it is mostly women who save time. Time saved is mostly spent on housework and on economic activities that may provide income.

5.   Benin is severely lagging behind its target for latrines, both with regard to access and use. Lack of cleaning and maintenance are the biggest problems in increasing the use of public latrines. Households’ willingness to pay is substantially below the reported costs of constructing a private latrine.

6.   The impact analysis did not find evidence for an effective integrated water supply, sanitation and hygiene-promotion approach. Safe hygienic behaviour is not widespread and did not change much over the period studied. The lack of an effective integrated strategy is partly explained by institutional factors.

7.   There is no impact of an improved water source on water related diseases (at least within a year and for the diseases analysed), even though diseases like diarrhoea are still highly prevalent in rural Benin and pose a high economic burden on households. Improved household transport and storage systems are found to reduce self-reported vomiting.

8.   In general, most improved water points collect water fees, which are, however, not always paid by the households. This income from the water points is usually enough to cover maintenance and basic repair costs but is not sufficient to cover the cost of the replacement of infrastructure. If households only consumed improved and paid-for drinking water, they would have to pay a ratio of their income that is equal to, and for poor households partly above, the willingness- and ability-to-pay that was estimated across several developing countries in previous research.

9.   The rural water supply and sanitation strategy has a clear focus on sustaining water supply infrastructure. However whereas sustainability of water supply services under the previous community-based strategy was not fully ensured, sustainability of the current strategy is also not ensured because it is under pressure from various mostly institutional and economic constraints.

10.As a result of insufficient attention given in the existing monitoring system to information on implementation and results at the local level and to links between the local and the regional level, the current rural water supply and sanitation strategy as well as the donor support provided are not adequately based on empirical evidence.




Current Issue: Africa Water & Sanitation & Hygiene March-April 2017 Vol.12 No.2