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Unique success through World Vision’s water, sanitation and hygiene programs

World Vision
26 February 2016 by Samuel Diarra
Unique success through World Vision’s water, sanitation and hygiene programs

Photo by Porimpe Isaac Sogoba, World Vision

Before joining World Vision in 2002, I worked in Mali for fourteen years with the government and other organisations. That time period, plus my 13 years with World Vision, has given me the opportunity to witness many water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects. WASH programs everywhere have changed greatly since I began working with World Vision. However, World Vision offers unique programs and perspectives that other organisations and governments simply don’t have.

Let me share an example of this uniqueness with you. There is a village in Mali where we began work in 2003. When we first arrived at this village we learned that seven previous attempts had been made at providing water for the village by other groups. The mayor of the village had given up hope of ever having water.

He actually offered me his finger if we found water! We made an eighth attempt and were able to provide a borehole with enough water for the village! Not only were the people of the village amazed, so were other organisations. (The mayor, of course, kept his finger.) We were constantly being asked how we succeeded where others had failed.

I believe that there are six factors that make World Vision’s WASH programs uniquely successful. These factors are:

  1. Long-term programs: World Vision commits to staying in one community for 15-20 years. This gives a community time to change!
  2. Community based programs: Our programs are based in communities where the people are given a chance to participate with us and be part of the solution.
  3. Demand-driven projects: We focus on projects that are truly needed.
  4. Equity: Everybody has equal access to the projects and changes that we make in a community.
  5. Sustainability: Our projects endure over time. A study by UNC Chapel Hill showed that 79% of WV WASH facilities were still working after 20 years! Sustainability is attainable because the community takes ownership of the project, and learns how to care for them on their own.
  6. Impact: World Vision water projects have high impact within a community. Communities are transformed by changes that truly alter their lives.

The future looks bright for continuing our success in WASH. The future of our programs is expansion and partnership. By 2016 we hope to have 21 new countries where World Vision WASH is working. We are also looking to expand both public and private partnerships. By working together with others, more good work can be accomplished. Partnerships can bring funding, but they can also be a source of new innovations and techniques for successfully implementing projects in communities.

What an honour it is to be a part of some amazing, life-changing projects. We continually press the limits of what can be done. Having courage to go beyond these limits comes from our faith. God is leading our programme in new and exciting directions, and I can’t wait to see the future of World Vision WASH.

Samuel Diarra

Samuel Diarra is the Technical Director for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) operations for World Vision International. He joined World Vision in 2002, working in the Mali office.


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