Asking the right questions in Kampot

Asking the right questions in Kampot

In January 2014, SNV’s Functionality of Rural Water Supply Services (FRWS) programme team travelled to Kampot Province to conduct training with provincial government counterparts on rural water supply mapping. Water supply mapping is the beginning of a series of activities, including the development of local water supply functionality plans. The government can then utilise these plans to improve the overall water supply level of service in the district.

Through a pre-survey of 38 village chiefs, the SNV team learned that there are approximately 1,000 borehole and dug wells in the district, in addition to community ponds, private ponds, and household rainwater catchment systems. To decide what data to capture, SNV had to consider what questions they actually wanted to answer.  After some brainstorming, they decided on the questions below:

  • Where are investments in water supply infrastructure coming from (individual households, donors, NGOs, government)?

  • Are ownership and management responsibilities of water supply infrastructure clear?

  • What type of handpumps are most common (and what maintenance products and services should be prioritised in the district)?

  • What percentage of water supplies are currently functional/dysfunctional in the district?

  • For those water supplies that are dysfunctional – what are the reasons (broken pump, low yield, collapsed well) – and for how long have they been dysfunctional?

  • How many households are using/drinking the water from each water supply in each season?

  • If a water supply is functional but is not always being used, what are the reasons for this (water quality, distance, water scarcity, other sources are preferred)?

  • What percentage of water supplies have aesthetic water quality issues (taste, smell, clarity)?

  • Where in the district are groundwater resources suitable for development (sufficient quantity and quality)?

  • What do users do (if anything) when water supplies break down?  What are the gaps and opportunities for post-construction support (technical advice, spare parts, rehabilitation services)?

These questions informed the design of the field data form and the team decided to only capture water supply infrastructure - defined as tube wells, dug wells, and constructed community ponds. With the field survey form drafted, the SNV team spent a day training members of the Provincial Department (and District Office) of Rural Development – the government agencies responsible for rural water supply in Chum Kiri.

One of the key points raised was how to define and explain 'functionality'. In the context of rural water supply, the definition of the word is not as clear as you may think. Water supply may not be functional because something is broken, stolen, or was poorly designed.  Additionally, functionality may change from season to season as water levels rise and fall. A water supply may also be fully, partially, or non-functional.

After much discussion and debate, for the purpose of our survey, functionality would be defined as the ability to capture water from the supply as intended by the infrastructure. For example, a handpump is meant to draw water up from the ground.  If this is more difficult than it should because of a problem – then the water supply is partially functional. If water cannot be accessed at all – then the water supply is non-functional.

However, a water supply may be fully functional but may not be used by the community: for example, even if a pump works just fine the water may taste and smell terrible.  In a case like this, we considered the well to be fully functional, but we decided to capture information about usage in a separate question. Once training on the field form was completed, the team conducted training on how to use a GPS device. After practice, each enumerator became confident in marking their location and we travelled to a nearby village to test the methodology on some real water supplies.

In February 2014, the team of six field enumerators and one supervisor will begin to survey each of the approximately 1,000 water supplies in Chum Kiri.  Based on the pilot, it is estimated that they can survey approximately 15 supplies per day and they will complete their mission by March. The next steps are data entry and data cleaning of the survey forms, before developing district and commune water supply maps and reports.

Look out for the next Functionality of Rural Water Supply Services report in March 2014!