Hall said that a clear definition of ‘community participation’ is crucial to evaluating the involvement of community members.
“Community participation, engagement and ownership will make or break a project, but what we found in our investigation of WASH projects in the Pacific region was that community participation was not really explicit in many of the projects,” Hall said.
“It was mentioned in some of the write-ups, but it was never used as an explicit measure of the impact of the project.”
Further to helping foster ownership and higher levels of engagement in communities, Hall said the discussion paper recommendations also aim to bring about true sustainable development.
“This is an important aspect of sustainability: will the project be sustained long term? Will the next generation understand how clean drinking water and wastewater treatment is linked to their health?” she said.
“We want the learning to continue. If we get it right, the community passes the learning on. This is sustainable development. It’s not just about being gentle on the environment and a healthy community – it’s about a long-term, positive impact as well.”