Community Surveys and Selection

Our process begins with the selection of communities we will begin our project in.

This is a very important, methodic and strategic process that is vital to the sustainability of the project. 

 

We work closely with the government structures in Massinga and the broader province. We are very aware and up-to-date on their priorities, difficulties, and concerns of their vulnerable populations. The local government has constant monitoring of their at-risk areas in the district, despite not having the resources to address them. We align with their primary assessment of those communities and, in an effort to align with the government's efforts for development, use these communities as our jumping off point.

Key points during the primary stages of the process​

Preliminary surveys and primary community surveys are completed before the main 3 month training begins. First, we coordinate with Provincial Government Agencies to compare lists of communities without access to clean water.

 

From there, we conduct our own site visits and primary surveys to determine where we will continue the next phases. We have discovered that if we announce visits, especially with the information that we are a humanitarian NGO, the information we receive can be misleading. It is easy for the Leaders and members of a community to want a handout and tell us whatever they want to hear to receive it. They may even have a clean water source nearby but tell us they are suffering so that they get another one!

 

This is very indicative of the manner in which other organizations and government conduct programs by not spending enough time to understand the reality of the community and build rapport.

Focus on Density

We first look at satellite images to confirm relative density of households within a radius of 2 km of the well (our target is 100 households). We then have 3-4 local staff arrive unannounced and out of uniform to walk the community, count households, observe environment of teachers at the school, and join some women to confirm where they fetch their water. They conduct 10 household surveys in random houses. 

THE SECONDARY SURVEYS

ARE VERY IMPORTANT. 

Community Engagement is a fundamental platform in the Water Underground model, and we must be sure that they are willing to be a part of their development, breaking the systemic dependence on foreign aid, and ensure that this will be their project, leading to overall sustainability.

 

During this survey, we include the Chief, head of the school, Traditional Leader, and Pastor and request them to gather respected elders in the community.

 

We have a long conversation and first listen to their story. Understand their situation - outside of statistics - and what their vision is. We begin to see their personality.

 

 

We ask questions and gather insight to:

- How mobilized the community is as a whole

- If they are willing to have 'skin in the game' via training and investments of their time that all lead to ownership of the project.

- If the chief is willing to have new leaders emerge to support the development of the community.

- If they have already tried (on their own without government/NGO support) to develop and improve their lives (ie building their own latrines for the children in the school, building their own classrooms in the school from local materials, etc)

 

We openly explain to the community that we are surveying other communities and we are not able to do projects in every community. In an effort to further understand the potential emotional and literal skin in the game from these communities, the community then submits a proposal to our team explaining why we should do a project in their community and how it will impact them. Of course, we get many of the same answers, but we continue to hear their community voice develop.

Rural Community Appraisal
Community-78.jpg

After we select communities from those visits, we conduct what is called a Participatory Rural Community Appraisal. The approach aims to incorporate the knowledge and opinions of the people within the rural community in the identification, planning and management of development projects and programs. It includes various techniques including Participatory Mapping, Problem Tree Analysis, Transect Walks, and Focus Group discussions. 

Community-79.jpg

Participatory Planning


Participatory planning is used to assure the incorporation of local perspectives, opinions, priorities and ideas. We typically know the results of these processes, but the intended outcome is that the community identifies the issues themselves and discover ways that they can solve them internally and collectively — and Water Underground can assist with training and guidance (but is NOT there to provide infrastructure or a new water well, we are only there to help train).

Community Engagement

 

Community engagement is VITAL to the success of the projects. We involve the community in every process, from the initial design stage through implementation, making them decision makers right alongside us. This creates a two-way street between the beneficiaries and Water Underground. For the community, it gives them a voice in the process, explains their concerns, and communicates how their issues may be addressed most effectively. It also builds trust in us, the implementers, creating community buy-in. This community-based approach ensures both local pride and local applicability to the project, ultimately leading to sustainable, long-term successes.

Community-70.jpg

Community Engagement is a fundamental platform in the Water Underground model, and we must be sure that they are willing to be a part of their development, breaking the systemic dependence on foreign aid, and ensure that this will be their project, leading to overall sustainability.

 

During this survey, we include the Chief, head of the school, Traditional Leader, and Pastor and request them to gather respected elders in the community.

 

We have a long conversation and first listen to their story, understand their situation - outside of statistics - and what their vision is. We begin to see their personality.

We ask questions and gather insight to:

- How mobilized the community is as a whole;

- If they are willing to have 'skin in the game' via training; and investments of their time that all lead to ownership of the project;

- If the chief is willing to have new leaders emerge to support the development of the community;

- If they have already tried (on their own without government/NGO support) to develop and improve their lives (ie building their own latrines for the children in the school, building their own classrooms in the school from local materials, etc).

 

We openly explain to the community that we are surveying other communities and we are not able to do projects in every community. In an effort to further understand the potential emotional and literal skin in the game from these communities, the community then submits a proposal to our team explaining why we should do a project in their community and how it will impact them. Of course, we get many of the same answers, but we continue to hear their community voice develop.

The secondary surveys are very important
Community-50.jpg