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First Water Committee in Caucasus established in village Sverdlov, Lore region, Armenia.

The committee was initiated by the Sverdlov municipality, WECF and Lore Eco Club with the expertise of their partner Kyrgyz Alliance for Water and Sanitation (KAWS) and the Community Drinking Water Users Union from Kyrgyzstan in early March

09.08.2010 |Anna Samwel

First water comite in Caucasus established

In 2008 WECF and World Vision decided to renovate their water supply system. Although there were clean mountain springs nearby,  in the village no water at all was available, and the people were using polluted river water.

During Soviet times the water supply installed in 1972 was working well, but after Armenia became independent, there was no one responsible for maintaining the water supply and it started breaking down. The municipality tried to repair the water system provisionally with a very limited budget, but not enough to prevent a complete breakdown of the supply system.
In 2009, within the ELA project WECF and World Vision facilitated and financed the exchange of most pipes and some reservoirs of the exterior system bringing the water to the village. The community was responsible for doing the labour. Water is running, but not to all houses and after heavy rain the water is muddy. The inner system still needs renovation, as well as some of the reservoirs. Every week small reparations of pipes are needed.

Early March two experts from Kyrgyzstan and WECF regional consultant Anna Samwel visited Sverdlov for five days in order to assess the feasibility of a water committee managing the water system in Sverdlov and its organization. First days information about the village and the perception of its inhabitants was gathered and in about six spontaneous street meetings the water situation in the village, the responsibility for water and the readiness to pay for water was discussed. The fourth day the village meeting voted for the establishment of the water committee, and became the first general assembly of the water committee by the general assembly. The board and the supervisory commission of the water committee were elected. A monthly budget for the committee was calculated, and based on that the monthly contribution of 50 Dram (= 11 Euro-Cent) per person.
The mayor of Sverdlov is very active and, although hesitating in the beginning, is a great support and motivator for the establishment and functioning of the water committee. It was at his house that the experts stayed during their visit. Further Lore Eco Club was involved as organizer and consultant, and World Vision gave and is still giving logistic support to both Lore Eco Club and the water committee.

In June, about 90% of the population of Sverdlov is a member of the committee and signed the contract for monthly contribution.  About 70% of the population pays for water. In the beginning, the people were hesitating because the water supply was not what they had expected.
While many of the households cannot yet effort a water meter of 10 Euro, it was not possible to organize a payment according the real water use of the family.  The committee has used all the water that has been gathered for technical works on the water supply with support of the mayor. In the mean while, the water is clean and enough for most households, and people are satisfied. Although salaries for the board members were budgeted, no salaries were paid on agreement of all members, in order to carry out reparations.

Where there is water, waste water also appears. The concept of Urine Diverting Dry toilets has been introduced by Lore Eco Club in partnership with WECF for the school and municipality. Greywater filters have been introduced only theoretically so far. The interest among villagers in ecosan is very high, and needs to be further promoted.

The committee is being registered as an official organization, has its statutes, bank account and stamp. They hope to engage in fundraising and improve the water and sanitation systems in Sverdlov further.

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