SARAR stands for Self esteem, Awareness, Responsibility, Action planning and Resourcefulness. The understanding is that:
- If community members become aware of their problems and are given sufficient information on which to base their decisions (awareness);
- Are allowed to plan and implement projects for themselves (action planning);
- Are given the space to experiment to find the most appropriate solution (resourcefulness);
- They will take responsibility for their situation (responsibility); and
- Thereby gain confidence in their ability to solve their own problems (self esteem).
The SARAR philosophy underpins the Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) approach. The Mvula Trust has developed a number of PHAST tools/materials for project implementation. These include:
- O&M and cost recovery systems
- Defining clear roles and responsibilities
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Technology choice
- Community management
PHAST uses pictures so that illiterate people are not disadvantaged – pictures communicate an idea better than words. Pictures also overcome language disadvantages. PHAST allows community members to identify their problems, find solutions and express their ideas without revealing their individual circumstances or beliefs.
People Centred Approaches
The Mvula Trust’s approach to building local capacity is internationally unique. We place control of project finances in the hands of local community structures such as village water or sanitation committees. We do this in order to:
- Increase ownership
- Ensure an understanding of the costs of the service
- Build community confidence to deal with financial institutions and suppliers of goods and services
- Build self esteem, self confidence, and resourcefulness
Our experience with this approach, in over 500 communities, has been very positive. In the vast majority of projects all the above objectives have been achieved, and less than 0.2% of funds have been mismanaged.
Focus on women: The Trust adopted a policy calling for a 30% quota of women on all village water committees. Over and above the important human rights issues, this makes practical sense. Women are the primary collectors, managers and users of water in the home. However, national policy decisions are not always so easy to implement locally.
Water committees have not consistently adhered to the quota system. Further, women elected to the committees have not always made critical decisions. It was for this reason that The Mvula Trust embarked on an in-depth evaluation of women’s role on projects. Some very interesting material has come to light.