Evaluation of NCA WASH program in Iraq 2005 – 2011
Background:Iraq has been the largest WASH and rehabilitation & construction programs funded by NCA with a total budget of NOK 120 mill invested over the past 7 years. The WASH program started with rehabilitation of water and sanitation system including trucking services from Kuwait right after the war in 2003, and continued the work with installation and rehabilitation of purification units (PU) and compact units (PU/CU). Over the last years several desalination reverse osmosis (RO) units are also installed, as most of the southern Iraq is dependent on water from RO units for safe drinking water, as the water salinity is too high for drinking. NCA has also conducted extensive rehabilitation programs for water pipelines not covered in this assessment. A change in program strategy led to a focus to supply of WASH services to public schools with hygiene promotion and sanitation after 2008.Purpose/ Objective:The WASH activities needed to be assessed as NCA is now phasing out these activities in Iraq. The period of the assessment program span from water units installed in 2005 and up to date with associated programs. The assessment selected 20 of totally 34 installations in schools, hospitals and in rural villages for Bashra and Babil regions to form a representative picture of the total WASH program performed by NCA in Iraq. The assessment focused on the below listed issues: Technical, sustainability, gender issues.Methodology:Every site visit has been performed according to a similar procedure including a detailed checklist, interviews and documentation by photos. The detailed check lists can be found as an attachment to the report. The pros and cons from the assessment findings will be used as input to future programs by documenting what results have been achieved, and which aspects needs to be improved.Key Findings:NCA installations and rehabilitation work has a direct impact on drinking water for more than 1,000,000 beneficiaries.In the majority of the assessed installations, clean drinking water is provided with a high degree of sustainability. The best results can be found for all hospital RO installations, and also the majority of CU and PU installations / rehabilitations in the cities and villages. Installations of smaller water units in schools suffer from lack of maintenance and proper follow-up.The assessment team could not identify any positive impacts from the hygiene campaign in the sites assessed. Hygiene awareness and long term campaigns are generally missing particularly in schools. The gender issue is generally fulfilled as schools, hospitals or village / city water plants serve the population on an equal basis.Recommendations:The assessment has revealed potential for improving technical competence, follow-up and monitoring by NCA through the project planning and design phase.To perform the assessment effectively, the total overview of all Iraq WASH projects including simplified total budget figures, scope of work and project reports for each implementation should have been available from the start. It has taken some time to obtain the complete overview of the WASH program.An important observation is that water and hygiene is difficult to promote in schools, as the schools are administrated and funded by the Educational Department, where water and hygiene is not a focus. To succeed in school, more effort may be required by NCA in the beginning of the projects to mobilize education department, local councillors, teachers, students and parents to achieve significant results on hygiene and water components.The situation of overcapacity registered for the hospital RO units could have been solved by installing smaller units, possibly with space allocated for future upgrade of units in parallel. Significant project costs could have been saved, and a potential retrofit of a smaller membrane is considerably lower in price. But it should also be mentioned that several of the hospitals were expanding, so that the RO capacity may be appreciate in the coming years.The best result during the assessment was found with the hospital RO unit supplied from a local Iraqi supplier. Here the best training was given during the project, and this unit had available operation manuals, check lists and day logs in Arabic language. Spare parts were easier to buy for the Iraqi RO unit, which is an observation that local purchase can be favourable.For the construction of latrines, NCA should make effort to introduce better culturally appropriate and innovate ideas in building, construction and project designs.The responsibility of a water unit handed over by NCA is transferred to the local village or the Water Directory when NCA has completed the installation. However, for some of the largest rehabilitations of the interventions, it could be a lesson learned to continue with a yearly follow-up after the hand over from NCA. As spare parts for some installations also seem to be difficult to obtain through the Water Department, a follow-up visit with potential supply of critical spare parts would be beneficial even after the NCA hand over. Closer monitoring by NCA from the project start to identify hurdles and find solutions and direct contact towards suppliers may be a solution.Comments from Norwegian Church Aid (if any):N/A.