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The People's Water: A Randomized Control Trial of a Community-Driven Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Program in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Last registered on September 18, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The People's Water: A Randomized Control Trial of a Community-Driven Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Program in the Democratic Republic of Congo
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004648
Initial registration date
September 04, 2019
Last updated
September 18, 2019 3:03 PM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
World Bank
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
Harvard School of Public Health
PI Affiliation
Simmons University
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2016-02-01
End date
2020-03-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Rural WASH is inadequate in many developing countries, especially those affected by fragility, conflict and violence, with important implications for human welfare. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the setting of this study, 70% percent of the population is rural, and many live in areas that have experienced protracted instability and outright violent conflict. In addition, children under-5 mortality rates are remarkably high, only 31% of rural Congolese nationals have access to an improved water source, and only 29% use improved sanitation facilities.
Against this backdrop, in 2008 the Government of the DRC launched a national program known as the Support to National Healthy Villages and Schools (in French Villages et Ecoles Assainis, VEA), a water and sanitation program financed by DFID and implemented by UNICEF and the Government of DRC’s Ministries of Public Health, and Primary, Secondary, and Professional Education. The VEA’s main objectives are to support communities’ improved access to water, hygiene and sanitation services and practices through the construction of water and sanitation infrastructure in villages and schools, local community involvement, and a village certification mechanism.
Through a cluster-level randomized controlled trial, this study aims to evaluate the causal impact of the VEA program across 332 rural villages in the DRC. The study design involves experimentally varying the provision of the VEA program to a set of villages, to examine the causal impacts on water access, infrastructure development, availability of sanitation services, knowledge of hygiene practices, and child health. This study will present robust evidence to improve policy decisions pertaining to WASH policies and programs in the DRC and beyond.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Coville, Aidan et al. 2019. "The People's Water: A Randomized Control Trial of a Community-Driven Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Program in the Democratic Republic of Congo." AEA RCT Registry. September 18. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4648-2.0.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
In 2008, the Government of the DRC launched a national program known as the Support to National Healthy Villages and Schools (in French Villages et Ecoles Assainis, VEA), a Water and Sanitation (WASH) program financed by DFID and implemented by UNICEF and the Government of DRC’s Ministries of Public Health, and Primary, Secondary, and Professional Education. The VEA’s main objectives are to support communities’ improved access to Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) services and practices, especially in rural areas. The VEA supports the construction of water and sanitation infrastructure in villages and schools, facilitates local community involvement in the management of this infrastructure, conducts behavior change activities, and then formally certifies communities as Healthy Villages or Healthy Schools when they successfully achieve a set of water and sanitation norms. The program has now entered a new phase (2013-2018) and will offer an extended VEA program to an additional group of villages in provinces including Kongo Central, Kasai, Kasai Central, and South Kivu, which will be the focus of this evaluation.
Intervention Start Date
2016-02-01
Intervention End Date
2019-07-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Access to higher quality water; health and nutrition outcomes (e.g., reduced morbidity and mortality from diarrheal disease); education attainment of school-aged children (e.g., improved school attendance rates and learning outcomes; reduced absenteeism); and reduced burden of carrying water for households (in time and effort of carrying water, focusing specifically on women and children).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Willingness to pay for improved water; broader measures of child illness; knowledge and usage of good hygiene practices; social cohesion; social and economic conditions of women and girls and psychological well-being.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We will use a cluster-level randomized controlled trial to evaluate the causal impact of a WASH intervention on various health and socio-economic outcomes (both at the village and household level). The study design involves experimentally varying the provision of the WASH program Villages et Ecoles Assainis (VEA) to a set of villages, to examine the causal impacts on water access, infrastructure development, availability of sanitation services, knowledge of hygiene practices, and child health.

146 villages (grouped in 50 clusters) were randomly assigned to receive the VEA; while 186 villages (grouped in 71 clusters) were assigned to a control group, where no program activities have taken place. The randomization was conducted at the cluster-level.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Computer-based
Randomization Unit
Clusters of villages
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
121 clusters of villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
332 villages (where we will interview in total 664 village leaders and 1,328 household leads).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
The study involves 332 villagesç
- 146 villages (grouped in 50 clusters) were randomly assigned to receive the VEA;
- 186 villages (grouped in 71 clusters) were assigned to a control group, where no program activities have taken place.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
IRB Approval Date
2019-09-11
IRB Approval Number
IRB19-1427