Number of People with Nothing Better to Do

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gap Analysis

How´d you like to shit in this?

OK. Training is over. I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer. Now what? I’m here at my site and it’s time to begin work. I’m in the Water and Sanitation (WatSan!) group. Our main program goals here in Peru are to 1 – help improve access to and quality of water in my district; 2 – help improve hygiene practices; and 3 – help organize and train local organizations to improve water and sanitation services. Some of my principal activities will include training people in charge of their water and sanitation services, working with families to improve sanitation (building latrines, waste water systems) and working with various community organizations to develop sustainable waste management, water and sanitation systems.

Since I don’t know shit about my district I’ll be working on a three month Community Diagnostic which I’m going to call a "Gap Analysis". A former boss of mine "rebranded" the term Gap Analysis so I feel like I have to re-rebrand it here. The first step in any consulting process is to figure out what’s working and what’s not (assuming you don´t have agree on a fee but my shit´s free). That’s done by interviewing basically everyone who’ll talk to you –leaders of the community, members of local organizations, families, etc. From there you can identify the needs of the community and, with their input, develop solutions and strategies. Consulting 101.

I’ve already recruited about a dozen nursing students (not as hot as it sounds) to help me out with the surveys and the interviews. Last week we went to a small annex about an hour and a half up the valley from my town. The students did the interviews while I met with the Presidente del Comite de Agua Potable and checked out their water system. We found that the town did have access to potable water via communal spigots but there was no maintenance to the system and worms were coming out of the taps. Most families had rudimentary latrines but preferred to do their business al campo (in the woods were there trees). There is no solid waste collection or recycling and people burn their trash.

Some possible projects - building proper latrines, training the water committee on proper maintenance and disinfection of their system and organizing a recycling/waste collection process.

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