In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic health emergency, the Municipal Technical Areas (ATM) need assistance and capacity-building for rural operators’ management in order to reduce the risks of infection and improve the quality of life of the rural population. On 21 August, the Virtual Course on Water and Sanitation was officially presented, jointly organised by Cordón del Plata and the Swiss Cooperation Agency (SDC), specially designed for the ATM technical staff.
Peru has made significant progress in improved drinking water coverage and sewage disposal systems in rural areas. According to information from the 2017 Joint Monitoring Programme, it reached 77.41% and 60.78% respectively, all in infrastructure. Infrastructure is known to be the means to empower the rural population in hygiene habits and health culture, which will ultimately improve their quality of life.
The MVCS’s Sanitation Department has been implementing the National Rural Sanitation Programme capacity-building strategies, focusing on the regional SVC Offices, the local governments municipal technical areas, and on rural sanitation services providers.
The Cordón del Plata Foundation with the technical and financial support of Swiss Cooperation (SDC) developed the COVID-19 Distance Learning Course on Water and Sanitation in the Emergency, to help strengthen sub-national actors’ capacities in the sanitation sector, specifically the ATMs. These are key actors in the sector’s structure, because they let rural sanitation service providers work more dynamically. The ATMs are clearly established in DL 1280, the Framework Law for the Management and Provision of Sanitation Services, and in Resolution 015-2020 issued by the regulator (SUNASS), which approved the Regulation on the Quality of Sanitation Service Provision by Rural Providers.
Access to quality and sustainable drinking water services is a human right and is clearly stated in the six areas of the national sanitation policy in line with SDG 6, “Guaranteeing the availability of water and its sustainable management and sanitation for all”.
The event started with a brief description of the course by Fernando Romero, a specialist in sanitation and the course academic coordinator. He highlighted the fact that, besides strengthening the management of ATMs to optimise their work with the Service and Sanitation Management Boards (JASS), the course aims to develop a public culture of appreciation of sanitation services, as part of the National Sanitation Policy; and to contribute to reaching SDG 6 on the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
“The course methodology is adapted to this context of the pandemic (…) technology helps in this. The platform is the Google Classroom, the sessions are synchronized and unsynchronized (…) it has 50 hours of theory and 35 hours of practice (…). Finally, what is interesting about this course is that it fits into the work of the ATMs that will take part”. He stressed that “The actions and tasks the course gives them correspond perfectly to their work and their daily life at the ATM”.
Martin Jaggi, Director of SDC, highlighted that this course was an initiative of the Cordón del Plata Foundation, which approached SDC to explore the chance of receiving support for implementing an online course to strengthen the capacities of ATM specialists and technical managers and of the JASSs in rural areas. For SDC, which has more than 20 years’ experience in the field of water, sanitation and rural hygiene, this ongoing training course will be key to ensuring that indicators on anaemia, malnutrition, diarrhoea, hand washing, consumption of chlorinated water and clean toilets improve substantially in two to three years.
“A natural consequence of this is the fulfilment of a human right (access to quality and sustainable sanitation services) and it is contributing to the formation of a culture of peace”, he said.
“We hope that the seed that this course is sowing can be institutionalised later, through the MVCS or other options that arise precisely to give courses that are always accessible and available in the future”, he said.
Finally, Max Carbajal, director of the sanitation department of the MVCS’s construction and sanitation policy and regulation division, stressed that all of the ministry’s actions are framed within the six areas of the National Sanitation Plan, whose core objective is that by 2030 there will be no Peruvians without access to sanitation services.
“The capacity-building with providers now in course with the support of the Cordón del Plata Foundation and SDC is very important. It is for specialists in MTAs who will go on to strengthen the capacities of community organisations. The task in the rural area is enormous, and we need more initiatives like this and to institutionalise them. The ministry is working on various activities, but all the actors involved in sanitation services need to participate. We once again applaud this work, even more so as we know that the students who are taking the course are receiving a grant so that they can complete it, which is very good. The Ministry applauds this type of initiative and hopes that it can be replicated many more times and that it can be multiplied until it reaches all the MTAs, and with that all the providers in the rural area,” he concluded.