Under the Haiti Outreach (HO) model, HO asks communities for proposals to drill or refurbish a well. Then, they will only do so if the community agrees to form a maintenance committee; deposit a set amount per month for operation and maintence (committees decide who forms the community and how to set user fees); hire a guard (to enforce hours of operation, set by committees); and disseminate information through public meetings. These researchers found a unique opportunity to test the effectiveness of this community-based model as compared to standard well maintenance: following the earthquake in 2010, HO was asked to repair 158 wells and then turn them over to other groups. These wells did not receive the community-based management training, and thus serve as a comparison group. Although there are some weakness to this methodology, the author notes that it is difficult to imagine better data becoming available for evaluating alternative well maintenance approaches in rural Haiti. This paper also presents a model to quantify the tradeoff between equity and sustainabilty that characterizes the choice of whether or not to charge user fees.
- Sample size: 200 wells
- Wells managed under the community-based approach are 8.7 percentage points more likely to be functioning after one year.
- Communities were much more engaged in implementing and managing wells when they charged user fees. The fees needed to cover the average cost of maintaining a handpump, about $25 per year, are not prohibitively expensive.
- The median HO well attracted 64% of its community as subscribers. This is in contrast with estimates that only 27% of urban Haiti and 49% of the country's rural population have access to improved water.
- The model predicts that for each gourde (about $0.02) a monthly subscription fee increases, 0.6% of community households will stop subscribing.
- Broken wells appeared to be distributed closer to major roads and major rivers than working wells. They were also more likely to be in communities that were less politically organized.
- A possible violation of the assumptions used to form these estimates is if HO communities are somehow systematically different from comparison communities because they actively sought out help in acquiring a well.
- The tradeoff between providing access to all houesholds for a short period of time and providing access to most households for a sustained period of time is such that a planner would only choose a standard intervention over a community-based intervention if he had a very strong preference for the former. Specifically, he would have to value water provided to someone at the 90th percentile of the income distribution less than 31% as much as he valued the same water going to a person at the very bottom of the income distribution.