Exchange of experiences: Inter-agency dialogues for RWSS projects

What is risk management in water and basic sanitation and why is it important to build it from the community level? Why is rural water monitoring important?

These were some of the questions addressed in an exchange of good practices between Colombia and Peru during the week of 17-21 February. The Embassy of Switzerland - Humanitarian Aid and Development (COSUDE), within the framework of the ASIR-SABA project, promoted a space for exchange between institutions to discuss risk management, actions to protect basins, health education and strategies for water quality and monitoring in rural areas. "The ASIR - SABA Project is inspired by a Peruvian experience called SABA Plus. It is important to promote this type of exchange in order to reflect on how to influence public policy on water and basic sanitation in our country, as SABA Plus has done" shares Viviana Angulo, National Director of ASIR - SABA.

The exchange events were held in Bogota, Cali, Gámeza and Mongua (Boyacá), with the participation of institutions such as the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the Colombian Foreign Ministry, the Disaster Risk Management Unit, representatives of the city governments, the Pan American Development Foundation - PADF, SUNASS Peru and SABA Plus Peru.

We spoke with Herberth Pacheco, director of the NGO SABA Vida, to learn about community water management from the Peruvian experience:

What is risk management and why is it important for water and sanitation projects?

Community risk management is the set of actions that we must carry out in a coordinated manner - and at community level - to prevent water and sanitation projects from being affected. In other words, these are the actions to ensure that service providers are prepared and resilient in the face of adversity. Communities play a key role in risk management because in rural areas it is the community water and sanitation providers who have to face or solve the hazards, risks and/or threats.

What do you think Colombia can learn from the experience in water and sanitation in rural areas of Peru?

What Colombia can learn from rural water and sanitation risk management is the mandatory approach to the formulation, approval and determination of viability of any public investment project we have in Peru. To finance water and sanitation projects, they must comply with the analysis and implement disaster risk reduction measures.

Mention a good practice in monitoring water quality in rural areas of Peru that is being implemented.

Water quality monitoring is an action to ensure that the quality of water offered by the provider complies with the sectoral regulatory framework. In other words, it serves to ensure that the water that reaches households is of good quality. Monitoring is the responsibility of the health sector and goes beyond the characterization of the water resource. A good practice is to establish differential and appropriate strategies from the health sector so that surveillance protocols and actions can be adapted to the rural setting. In such a way that the technical equipment, technology, budget and methodologies must be available so that such strategies are effectively implemented. In both Peru and Colombia, this continues to be a challenge and the learning process is for both sides.

As a conclusion, the reflections that emerged in the space were framed in guaranteeing the improvement of health, good habits, adequate conditions for the consumption of water, the correct handling of food and hygienic services. Hence, the importance of involving rural communities as the core of the development, implementation and viability of any rural water and sanitation project.