Communities living in the Kagera Region, where CBHCC operates, mostly collect drinking water from hand-dug shallow wells and rivers. However, due to high levels of open defecation in the area (90% of people do not have access to a toilet), these water sources become polluted by human waste, especially during the rainy season, and this has contributed to high levels of water related diseases, especially among children.
Also, where there are existing water provision schemes in place, they are often non-functional due to a lack of ongoing operation and maintenance. Communities do not know how to repair water pumps, for example. Furthermore, there are often no cost recovery mechanisms in place and so there is no money to pay for maintenance, repairs, and spare parts. Instead, communities rely on the district water office to send an engineer out to repair any damage, often leading to long delays. This is inefficient and unsustainable since all too often the repair could have been made by a local artisan.
CBHCC focuses on instituting full cost recovery for all of its water schemes. In the past, the organization operated with a free water policy but has since moved to full cost recovery in order to ensure the hardware is sustainable.
CBHCC works closely with the community in order to implement its schemes and the cost recovery model. Each project is designed in participation with the community and is tailored accordingly to meet their specific needs. This involves in-depth analysis of the specific problems facing that community; for example, the needs of pastoralist communities are unique due to their emphasis on providing water for their animals, and this is taken into account by CBHCC when developing projects.
The organization then engages in advocacy work and training in order to change the mindset of the communities it works with and ensure their cooperation. This can include taking community members to visit other successful projects in nearby areas. CBHCC also pays close attention to the local political economy in order to shape how they work with communities.