8.2.10 Document all of the above
All the sections detailed above have to be documented so that there is an audit trail, in case any step has to be reviewed. (An audit trail is a chronological record that provides documentary evidence of the sequence of activities that led to a given decision.) Keeping clear and complete documentation enables the Plan to be reviewed periodically. This is important because changes can happen anywhere along the water supply process. New risks might arise, or more efficient and economical methods might become available to control the different risks.
In addition to regular review and updating, it is important that the Plan is reviewed and possibly modified following an incident or crisis. A post-incident review, where the incident is discussed in detail, is likely to identify areas for improvement in the operating procedures, training or communications, and these should be incorporated in a revised Water Safety Plan.
Case Study 8.1 Water Safety Plan at community level in Ethiopia
In Hentalo Wejerat woreda, in Tigray Region, Water Safety Plans were used to improve water supplies in small communities and ensure access to safe and clean water (Drop of Water, 2014).
Twelve individuals were trained as Trainers in Water Safety Planning by specialists from the World Health Organization. The training covered the principles of water safety planning, risk management for the supply of drinking water, guidance on developing Water Safety Plans, surveillance and control of small community water supplies, and safe practices in household water use. Three Water Safety Planning Teams were then established.
The three Water Safety Planning Teams were given training that focused on the impact of unsafe water, assessing environmental contaminants, operating a hygienic water point and the physical treatment of water at household level. They then applied Water Safety Plans to three water points at Lemlem Queiha, May Weyni and May Yordanos.
At Lemlem Queiha, although there was a fence at the water point, there was no gate. The area around the water point was unclean, and the water point was vulnerable to flooding. Not all the houses in the vicinity had latrines, which meant open defecation was taking place. The community had a poor awareness of good hygiene and sanitation. Jerrycans used for collecting water were unclean.
At May Weyni, the fence at the water point had been damaged by flood and had not been repaired, and there was no gate. Nearly all the residents had latrines at their homes.
At May Yordanos, the water point was found to be clean and well fenced. Water handling was hygienic both at the water point and in the residents’ homes. The houses had latrines, which meant that open defecation was eliminated. The community had a good awareness of hygiene and sanitation.
Over the one-year period of the project, with the aid of the Water Safety Planning Teams most of the residents installed latrines, and gained a good knowledge of hygiene and sanitation. The water points were kept clean, and good water-handling practice was adopted at water points and in homes. Open defecation was almost totally eliminated. Gates were installed at the water points at Lemlem Queiha and May Weyni, and the broken fence at May Weyni was repaired, to prevent contamination by animals.
In what ways does Case Study 8.1 correspond to the ten steps of Water Safety Plans described in this study session?
The actions taken in the case study correspond to the first few steps in a Water Safely Plan:
- Assembling a team of experts: twelve people were trained so that they had the expertise to undertake a Water Safety Plan.
- Description of the water supply system: details of the three water points were recorded.
- Identification of hazards: the various hazards at two of the water points (lack of gates, lack of a fence, unclean areas around water points, the susceptibility to flooding, open defecation, poor awareness of good hygiene and sanitation, unclean jerrycans) were noted.
Less well-fulfilled steps were:
- Carrying out a risk assessment: this does not appear to have been done, but it was perhaps unnecessary in the simple situation faced by the Team.
- Identification of control measures for each risk: control measures focused on addressing the hazards identified earlier. Hence, gates were installed, a fence was put up, the water points were kept clean, latrines were installed (almost totally eliminating open defecation) and information on good hygiene (covering water handling practice) and sanitation was disseminated to the residents. The issue of flooding did not seem to have been resolved.
- Defining a monitoring system for each control measure: since the residents had received information on good hygiene and sanitation, it is likely that they would endeavour to maintain good practice.
- In a small community context, preparing management procedures and a verification programme, and developing supporting programmes, are not needed.
The above was an example of the application of a Water Safety Plan but in a rural context. Hence not all the ten steps necessary in an urban situation were applicable to achieve the positive outcome.