By Mark Duey, Co-CEO Water For People
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I recently had the opportunity to visit Water For People’s Peru program with our board of directors. This great experience occurred during an unexpected holiday where everyone was able to watch the Peruvian national soccer team play a World Cup qualifier. It is clear to me that Peru has a great passion for soccer, however, in this opportunity it was the WASH sector that won by a landslide. In soccer, a hat-trick is an exceptional achievement where a player scores three times in one match; in our own version of a hat-trick, our small but mighty team of twelve people in Peru was able to achieve with their systems strengthening approach at three levels. Here’s what it looked like…
During our trip, we visited a small mountain village called "La Laguna" in the district of Cascas, where Water For People last year collaborated with the district WASH office to build a water system which now supplies safe water to the 100 families of La Laguna and Conoden.
We were able to meet community leaders to hear about the multiple ways this system has improved their lives, and the president of the community water board highlighted the hard work done by all community members to support the construction of the water system.
In Asuncion, in the department of Cajamarca, where the impact of Water For People’s system strengthening efforts was recently documented in this outstanding case study prepared by Agenda For Change, Water For People’s system strengthening efforts have contributed to remarkably improve water service delivery that is being sustained over time.
Over a nine-year period (2013 to 2021), Water For People addressed various underperforming factors in the water system in Asunción, including planning and financing universal services, finance for operations and maintenance, and skills building of district water, sanitation, and hygiene offices and service providers. From 2013 to 2019, the percentage of unserved households in Asunción decreased from 17% to 3%. Further, overall service delivery levels have been maintained at intermediate or high levels. We share our data publicly on our Everyone Forever Tracker.
In our visit to Trujillo (capital of La Libertad department), the Governor of Cajamarca, Mesías Guevara, presented progress made by his state to close the gap on water, sanitation, and hygiene services.
He emphasized the importance of "green watersheds" as a key piece of the long-term sustainability of Cajamarca’s water resources in the context of climate change. He emphasized the role of Water For People as leaders, trainers, and providers of technical support to the state agencies focused on achieving SDG 6.
Technical support areas range from advising on service level data collection across each state to training town officials statewide on how to assess, rehabilitate, and create effective management models around failed wastewater treatment plants – which far too often are well designed and constructed but are not maintained or managed well. Officials from La Libertad state and Lambayeque state shared similar experiences. With Water For People’s support, both departments have been able to develop a strategy to achieve SDG 6 and they are on their way to achieving it.
In Lima, one of Peru’s highest ranking public officials, Viceminister of Construction and Sanitation Javier Ernesto Hernández Campanella, was also able to meet with us. We learned about the national government’s progress and challenges related to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6.
The national government has made significant progress in the last five years on efforts to build the capacity of institutions at department and local levels to facilitate progress on achieving universal and sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene services. Examples include creation of department-level offices of the National Rural Sanitation Program (PNSR) and the national regulatory agency (SUNASS).
Also, the national government’s Incentive Program For the Improvement of Municipal Management has created financial incentives for local governments to create district WASH offices and perform key activities related to system strengthening model, in order to reach Everyone Forever.
The Water For People team in Peru is quite small, but that has not stopped them from making a positive impact by supporting the national government in the north of the country. What has been achieved to date reinforces our commitment and demonstrates the effectiveness of the Everyone Forever model. We are ready to get down to work, with government-led WASH system strengthening happening at all three levels, Peru is taking a real shot at hitting SDG 6!