C. Water

6. Distribution

Water distribution is an important consideration in camp layouts because displaced persons must have easy and safe, but controlled, access to water. Ideally, no camp dwelling should be located further than 500 m according to the Sphere guidelines, or a few minutes’ walk from a distribution point. Greater distances may be acceptable in rural displaced person settlements. When people are required to walk long distances for water, they tend either to reduce their water usage or collect water from closer, but contaminated, sources. Both actions have a negative impact on public health. Distribution points should not be located in low-lying areas that have poor drainage and may flood during rains. The area around the distribution point should be paved with stones or gravel or protected by boards, with a runoff channel to allow proper drainage.

Water can be distributed to individuals in a number of ways depending on local conditions. Uncontrolled access by individual consumers to primary water sources must be avoided. A distribution system should have an even coverage among the camp population and a sufficient number of taps or faucets relative to the size of the population to ensure that people do not wait for long periods. Equity in the distribution of water is an extremely important consideration. Water for domestic use should flow between the source/storage and distribution points in properly engineered pipelines to protect its quality. Pipes and joints must be watertight as leaking pipes may be subject to contamination from polluted water when the pressure drops or when the system is turned off. Pipes may be made of metal, cement, plastic, or bamboo. Plastic and galvanized steel are the most common pipe materials. Plastic pipes are often the cheapest and easiest to lay and are not subject to corrosion. They are available in both sections of coiled, flexible pipe and in rigid lengths of pipe. Pipe should be buried for protection, and sections of the system should have isolation valves to facilitate repairs if breakages occur.

Public tap stands with self-closing taps are recommended as water distribution outlets. Taps, however, are very vulnerable to breakage, wear out quickly, and require a preventive maintenance program to minimize water wastage. Where water quantities are limited and must be rationed, standpipe taps that can be locked at certain times are one way to prevent people from taking more water than they are entitled to have. According to Sphere guidelines, there should be one tap per 250 displaced persons (based on a flow of 7.5 liters/minute). Another Sphere recommendation is 500 people per hand pump (based on a flow of 16.6 liters/minute).

A certain amount of wastewater from bathing, kitchen, and laundry activities will be generated in the community, both at the individual and community level. This "greywater" can pose a danger to public health if not properly disposed of in a soakage pit, or allowed to drain away from the settlement. In some cases and with certain precautions, greywater may be reused for vegetable gardens or to flush latrines.

TOC: C. Water