History of work
In 2006, APS has expanded its water and sanitation program in the Sunderban region with the support of Water 1st International (USA).
These projects being implemented by APS are very unique. Even though the villagers here are subsistence fisherman and live in extreme poverty, they are paying 20% of the capital costs of their water projects through monthly installments over several years. This financial investment on the part of our project participants tells us that they place a high value on improving their water supply and gives us a greater assurance that a project will be well-maintained. It also leaves them their dignity and makes them feel proud that they have not been given a hand-out.
This beneficiary contribution is the policy of all of our projects. “And with 20 years experience we found that if we give water points free of cost to the people, the people have no interest in maintaining it properly,” said Sri Aloke, a member of the APS Board of Directors. “But, if we charge a certain percentage of the project, they can maintain it properly, because they realize it is their property. If it is not maintained, they will have to suffer. That’s why beneficiaries must contribute to the capital costs of projects, not only for water and sanitation but also for our other programs. “
With grant funding from our donor partner, Water 1st International, APS works with beneficiary communities to implement water, sanitation, and health education projects. Projects consist of drilling new deep wells and installing locally-manufactured hand-pumps. Individual household pit latrines are also constructed along with extensive training in hygiene education.
Projects are coordinated through Women’s Self Groups in the beneficiary villages. Members of the community SHGs are united to form the water committee to manage the project, including maintenance of the hand-pumps. Households pay a monthly user fee to the water committee which covers the operation and maintenance of the water system. The role of women in the projects is critical. Because women are traditionally responsible for collecting the household’s daily water, female membership on the water committee is highly valued.