UNDP's Community Water Initiative

The Community Water Initiative was developed in response to the World Summit on Sustainable Development call for concrete actions to meet global challenges in the field of water and sanitation. Inspired by the success of other UNDP programmes, such as UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme, the Local Facility for Urban Environment, and Africa 2000, the Community Water Initiative has functioned as a decentralized, demand driven funding mechanism for sustainable community-based water and sanitation development and management. The Initiative operates closely with the existing UNDP small grant mechanisms and includes their proven effective features.

In the 2003/2004 pilot year, programmes were started in six countries to support activities in four major areas:

  • Local watershed management
  • Water supply for communities and households activities
  • Household sanitation
  • Innovative financing and management structures

The Community Water Initiative has supported:

  • Water supply and sanitation infrastructures
  • Capacity development
  • Documentation and dissemination of good practices between communities (e.g. study visits or workshops)
  • Pro-poor policy development in the areas of water management, water supply and sanitation.

Highlights of the Pilot Phase include:

  • Utilizing solar energy for pumping community potable water in Coyolate, Patutul and Suchitepequez, Guatemala
  • Protection and capping of natural springs in Olkinyei, Kenya
  • School sanitation and income generation for women in Boghe, Mauritania
  • Community planning and school children involvement in integrated solid waste management at Panajachel, Guatemala
  • Establishment of gravity-fed community water supply scheme, including fee collection for sustainability at Lusala, Tanzania

Grants to a maximum amount of US $20,000 were made available per community to implement projects under the following criteria:

  • Demonstrable innovative approaches
  • Focus on strong involvement of community
  • Providing reliable, sustainable management systems and affordable services
  • Demonstrable improvement of livelihoods
  • Low cost, appropriate technologies
  • Demonstrable gender mainstreaming approach
  • Long-term sustainability.

As a result of the Community Water Initiative, communities have set their own priorities and developed their own projects, thereby demonstrating the potential for scaling-up. In subsequent years additional countries will be added to the Community Water Initiative.