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Tearfund water, sanitation and hygiene service delivery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: contributions to peace-building and state-building

Research reports

Written by Sarah Bailey

This country report is part of a one-year DFID-funded research project implemented by Tearfund and ODI. The research explores the links between service delivery of water supply and sanitation and the wider processes of state-building and peace-building in fragile and conflict-affected states.

The research focuses on Tearfund’s water supply, saniation and hygeine (WASH) interventions implemented through the Capacity Building to Improve Humanitarian Action in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene’ programme, funded by DFID’s Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department (CHASE). The objective of the programme was to increase the capacity of Tearfund disaster management team operations, local partner projects and local government departments in conflict-affected and humanitarian contexts, to support improved access to potable water, sanitation and public health education (PHE), resulting in sustainable improved health, well-being and dignity for grassroots communities.

The contribution of WASH service delivery to peace-building or state-building was not a specific objective of the programme, and there has been no initial baseline or ongoing monitoring or evaluation of the impacts of WASH service delivery on these goals. However, as the programme was being implemented, Tearfund project staff and partners identified some examples of effects.

This research project provides an opportunity to look further into these examples, to understand the relationships between Tearfund’s WASH programming and peace-building and state-building processes, and to identify opportunities for future WASH programmes to contribute to peace-building and state-building.

For the Tearfund project sites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), researchers identified how the WASH service delivery modality (what, who, how) in each project site manifested itself across a number of potential routes for influence on peace-building and state-building. They found that impact – positive and negative – is conditioned by the country context: the causes of conflict and armed violence, and the nature of the state in DRC, shape the limitations and opportunities for Tearfund to impact peace-building and state-building.

In DRC, there is not a strong, intuitive link between the WASH sector and peace-building and state-building: water is not a driver of conflict, and the government is only marginally involved in providing water and sanitation services.

Michelle Kooy and Sarah Bailey