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Wageningen Universiteit (2006)

Facilitating community water supply treatment : from transferring filtration technology to multi-stakeholder learning

Visscher, J.T.

Titre : Facilitating community water supply treatment : from transferring filtration technology to multi-stakeholder learning

Auteur : Visscher, J.T.

Université de soutenance : Wageningen Universiteit

PhD thesis 2006

Résumé _For more than a quarter of a century, IRC has been supporting the development of Slow Sand Filtration (SSF) and more recently, together with CINARA, the pioneering of Multi-Stage Filtration (MSF) - a combination of Gravel Filtration and SSF that has been shown to have great potential as an effective water treatment system for community water supply. This study examines experiences in introducing SSF and MSF technologies in a number of countries and reviews key components of the "learning project approach" developed in Colombia. It seeks to answer three questions about the replication of these two technologies :
Was the introduction of SSF and MSF successful ?
Has an effective facilitation process emerged for the introduction of the technologies ?
Have the conditions been created to sustain the technologies ?

Based on the findings, it proposes an expansion of the learning project approach into a comprehensive new methodology for participatory technology development and replication to be known as : Facilitating of Learning, Application, Implementation and Reflection -FLAIR.

Material for the study has come from the SSF project (1975-1986) and the TRANSCOL project between 1989 and 1996. It has been supplemented by revisiting several MSF systems in Colombia in 2005, nine years after the TRANSCOL project ended. The authors’ involvement in these projects started in 1982.

The study presents salient aspects of the SSF and MSF technology including a number of innovations that have been developed over time in the two projects and in a related research project. It shows that results with SSF have been moderately positive, wherever a good quality water source was available. MSF treatment has similar implementation characteristics to SSF but is able to treat water of much poorer quality, and the results were better. The study shows that MSF can perform very well and is well suited to community water supp !y treatment, provided that the contextual situation is supportive.

The author reconstructs the initial conceptual framework of the SSF project and describes different transfer channels that were used. He stresses the potential of the concept of using project management committees in each country, and draws lessons from the fact that results did not live up to expectation. The SSF project was moderately successful in only three of the six project countries. He argues that the thinking underlying the project was in line with the conventional technology transfer paradigm of that era. Based on a detailed review of the project, the findings support the criticism of this model -confirming that technology transfer is not a unilateral process, but much more complex. The project did not treat the SSF technology at this level of complexity. SSF truly is a complex system and its successful functioning involves interactions between the biological processes and the human operators.

Mots clés : water supply / treatment / community involvement / filtration / biological filtration / technology transfer / participation

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