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

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  • SuSanA secretariat currently allocates 2 full time person equivalents of time from members of GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Team: Arne Panesar, Doreen Mbalo, Shobana Srinivasan, Franziska Volk and interns Ainul Nisaa and Jacinta Wokabi.
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Impact evaluation of drinking water supply and sanitation programmes in rural Benin

(this was also sent to the e-mail list of WG 4 - it is copied here to allow for a discussion and to have it as an archive)

Dear SuSanA Working Group 4,

For those of you with an interest in health impacts, I think you will find this detailed evaluation from Benin useful. It shows once more that without hygiene education and sanitation interventions, the health improvements of water supply interventions alone are not significant (in short). Please read the executive summary below to find out more details. This honest and open report is actually having quite in impact in the German development cooperation where the lessons learnt will be taken very seriously.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Dr. Elisabeth von Münch
Program "Sustainable sanitation - ecosan"
Program leader
and secretariat of Sustainable Sanitation Alliance ( )

Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

T + 49 6196-794221
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S e.muench (Skype)

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  • bracken
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  • Working throughout Africa since 1996 in development cooperation. Involved with sustainable sanitation systems since 2002. Currently working for the AHT GROUP AG (a private consultancy office in Germany).
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Re: Impact evaluation of drinking water supply and sanitation programmes in rural Benin

Thanks for posting this Elisabeth - extremely interesting given that in 2004 in the JMP report, Benin was seen to be one of the leading lights in West Africa, and (along with Senegal) was expected to reach the sanitation MDG. So I'm asking myself what happened - was it the overly optimistic monitoring (probably) or a breakdown in the way of doing things (possibly but unlikely).

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Impact evaluation of drinking water supply and sanitation programmes in rural Benin

Thanks a lot for the link!

I am actually going to Bénin next month for a drinking water related project, and this will for sure be helpful (even though the summary sounds similar to what the local GIZ representatives told us already).

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  • kimmorkel
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Re: Impact evaluation of drinking water supply and sanitation programmes in rural Benin

This is really an informative post, thanks for sharing.

Water is the basic or prior need of human but unfortunately, In mostly rural areas like Benin, Africa are having the crises of safe drinking water . They need to travel long distance to get water. Hats off for those organizations who are working for saving and helping people for the access of water near their places'

In some areas of Africa people are consuming dirty water. We should raise hand for those non-profit organizations who are serving their bests to help them
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