Fontes Foundation always involves the communities in the installation process of the water systems, as it is necessary to start mobilising the inhabitants in advance in order to achieve a good cooperation. The involvement is mainly transated in digging trenches for pipes and other manual labour. For instance, in January 2010 Fontes Foundation choose to adopt a fast implementation process in order to keep the community members motivated. Fontes used temporary water tanks and taps designed for emergencies and the water supply system was installed with water running within a week. In the following weeks, two permanent public stand posts, a tank and a pump house were constructed. The whole process was carried out in close collaboration with Sub-County leaders, local leaders and the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Through participative approaches, the community is involved in the planning, implementation and management of the water system, in order to create ownership and enhance sustainability. We also aim to adapt each project to the local context and and use as much as possible local technologies. Fontes Foundation also emphasises a close contact to local political and institutional structures. We believe that the planning and design phases are crucial for a good project and follow up our projects over a long period after the physical implementation to facilitate capacity building in the community and allow for a mutual learning process.
In addition to improving the water source, Fontes Foundation believes that providing safe drinking water can be used as an entry point to the community, and that the training and organising of a water committee can have positive spill-over effects on the democratic structure in the village, on women’s empowerment and on motivation. Fontes Foundation is also aware of the importance of hygiene promotion and proper sanitation in order to reduce faecal-oral diseases and improve the living conditions and well-being of people.
The water project is managed by a democratically elected water committee, which hires 3 technicians to run the system on a daily basis. They also supervise one caretaker for each tap stand, who receives money and keeps the tap stands clean. The committees need support in how to manage the system on a financially sustainable basis, how to set a price that is accepted by the community but still gives enough income to cover the expenses, and how to supervise the work of the technicians and caretakers. The technicians need support and technical training; they are all local community members with mostly little technical experience. After the technical installation is complete, most of the time spent on follow up goes to management issues.