Colombia Seeks Ways to Provide Clean Water

Latin American Herald Tribune, 10/10/2012

US and Colombia Charity "Give to Colombia" will implement several innovative models for providing rural water and sanitation with support from the InterAmerican Development Bank, the PepsiCo Foundation, the government of Switzerland, and the government of Austria, and the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction.

BOGOTA — Colombia and US charity "Give to Colombia" (G2C) has launched a multi-million dollar project to help provide safe drinking water and sewage sanitation in Colombia.

According to Colombia’s National Administrative Statistics Department (DANE 2005 census), in rural areas of Colombia, water service coverage was around 45% and sewerage coverage 16.8%.

G2C's first projects will seek to produce models for the formulation of a large-scale potable water supply and waste water management program in rural areas. The program is being financed with the help of an InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) loan for $60 million to the Colombian government for activities that would be carried out in rural areas in the departments of Cauca, Nariño, Antioquia, Bolivar, Cordoba, and Guajira.

Financing for these pilot projects will be provided by the AquaFund — a program supported with funds from the IDB, the PepsiCo Foundation, the government of Switzerland, and the government of Austria — and the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction.

The cost of the pilot projects is estimated at $2.1 million, and they will be run by Give to Colombia (G2C), which receives resources from the Embassy of Japan and the General Electric Foundation. In addition, PepsiCo Colombia is providing key resources to implement the strategy for disseminating the projects.

Give to Colombia, headed by Angela Maria Tafur de Barco, is a US charity that strives to increase the flow of international donations to Colombia, channelling funds to organizations that serve the neediest sectors of Colombian society (displaced, demobilized and disabled) in three main areas: Education, Health, and Economic Development. 

The project will mainly focus on sanitary infrastructure, technical support for community water systems, and sanitary improvements inside of homes in the country’s peri-urban areas. The components of the project are:

School Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion

This component will finance the design of a SWASH program to improve access to basic water supply and sanitation services in at least 25 rural public schools and implement a comprehensive hygiene promotion program to reach approximately 2,500 students in those schools.

The component will be conducted in the Department of Magdalena and Bolivar.

The specific objectives are to:

  • implement and evaluate UNICEF’s model for SWASH interventions implemented by the selected local NGO;
  • increase access to sustainable safe water and sanitation services at targeted schools through appropriate infrastructure development; the water infrastructure required by each school will depend upon local needs and contexts but will include identification of a secure water source, rehabilitation or construction of water systems and the necessary infrastructure solution for the management of wastewater;
  • improve hygiene behaviors, particularly hand washing, among students at those schools;
  • strengthen participating communities to be accountable for the financing, operation and maintenance of school water and sanitation systems; evaluate opportunities for private and public sector involvement, as well as coordination with the government’s poverty eradication programs (RED UNIDOS);
  • systematize, document and disseminate the results of the program to provide input to the rural water and sanitation projects of the Government.

Post-construction support and the sustainability of rural water projects

Despite continued large-scale investments in water and sanitation infrastructure, there is widespread evidence to suggest that after a number of years of operation many rural systems will face a variety of problems including: technical failures, financial or management challenges. Given that in Colombia there is no coherent public policy to promote post-construction support models that are scalable, administratively efficient and have technically sound, this initiative will therefore seek to provide an in-depth study to develop a viable and high-impact model that can yield public policy recommendations on post-construction support to rural water projects.

The specific objectives of this component are:

  • To systematize post-construction support models that can be applied to the Colombian context by taking into account international and local experiences, as well as regional and socio-cultural characteristics.
  • To develop a sound and innovative financial model for post-construction support that does not solely rely on government subsidies.
  • To propose an integral model that includes a sound financial scheme and technical requirements that can be implemented in Cordoba and Bolivar* to ensure post-construction sustainability.
  • Based on the proposed model and studies, to provide clear public policy recommendations that incentivize integral post-construction support.

Sustainable models for the financing and provision of Household Connections

Instead of simply providing subsidies or cash transfer for household connection, this component seeks to integrally understand the challenges faced by those living in extreme urban poverty in connecting to water services so as to develop innovative and scalable financial intervention models and partnerships involving public and private sectors that can ultimately provide effective coverage to water and sanitation services.

The specific objectives are to:

  • To conduct a comparative analysis of the challenges faced by those in the bottom of the pyramid to connect to water and sanitation services and innovative models being implemented to address this need;
  • Based on the comparative analysis, to develop a set of practical guidelines for demand-driven and service oriented models with innovative financing mechanisms and leveraging of public-private sector allies to propose two to three models to be tested under this component;
  • To implement the proposed models and provide water and sanitation services to families living in poverty
  • based on the implementation of the proposed models to provide policy recommendations.

Sustainable Self-Supply Models for Disperse Rural Communities

Remote rural areas in Colombia without a highly concentrated population often face low indexes of water and sanitation services. Therefore the proposed component seeks to respond to this need identified in rural disperse communities by testing the development of sustainable self-supply models and providing policy recommendations for its replicability.

The specific objectives are to:

  • To conduct and review case studies of self-supply alternatives to water and sanitation locally and internationally taking into account local legislation (Título J del RAS), financing and technical assistance;
  • based on the comparative analysis to develop a set of practical guidelines for demand-driven and service oriented models with innovative financing mechanisms and propose three to four models to be tested under this component;
  • To implement the proposed models in a rural community in need of water and sanitation services;
  • based on the implementation of the proposed models to provide policy recommendations.







Colombia Minister of Housing German Vargas Lleras, Vice President of Public Policy of the Pepsico Foundation Diego Ruiz, InterAmerican Development Bank Colombia Representative Rafael de la Cruz, Counsel of the Japan Embassy to Colombia Yasuhisa Suzuki, and Angela Maria Tafur de Barco, Executive Director of Give to Colombia, unveil their multi-million dollar project to provide safe and clean water for Colombia.

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