Participatory Engineering: Community Involvement to Maximize Benefits of Infrastructure Improvement in Vietnam

by Christopher McGahey,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: WRPMD'99: Preparing for the 21st Century


(No paper) Participatory engineering deals with the processes which link communities to the technological interventions which affect them. Examples of sustainable linkages abound in many sectors including agriculture, irrigation, material processing, hydropower and water and sanitation. This paper will present the results of one multi-year effort in Vietnam in which community members have been actively engaged in behavior change and infrastructure expansion to maximize the health benefits of municipal water supply improvements in six provincial capitals in Vietnam. The Asian Development Bank is supporting a community-focused effort, the Community Environmental Health Improvements for the Provincial Towns Project, in support of the goals and objectives of the First Provincial Towns Water Supply and Sanitation construction project. In the construction project, water treatment systems are being upgraded; water supply coverage is being expanded; and drinking water quality will be improved in the six urban areas. The Community Environmental Health Improvements Project is focusing its work on marginal areas largely populated by the urban poor. These people are largely unserviced by existing water supply systems and survive as they can on combinations of groundwater from shallow dug wells, surface water from contaminated sources, and rainwater as it is available. It is unlikely that many households in the target communities will be able to connect directly to the upgraded piped water systems due to connection cost relative to household income and probable distribution system layout. Due to the likely inability of these households to connect directly to the system, one emphasis of the Health Improvements Project has been to facilitate community organization around public water and sanitation facilities. A second emphasis is improving hygiene behaviors of the community and the households to maximize long-term health benefits of the water supply upgrading. A third emphasis is on maximizing the size of the customer base for the Water Supply Companies operating the treatment and distribution systems. Significant success have been achieved through the targeted cooperation of community groups and the Companies to ensure equity of access and maximized health impacts.

Subject Headings: Water supply systems | Developing countries | Water supply | Infrastructure | Project management | Water treatment | Water quality | Water resources | Vietnam | Asia

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