For the last six years or so, primarily through our WASHCost and Triple-S initiatives, IRC has engaged deeply with the challenges of what it takes to provide sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services. We think that we’ve identified many parts of the puzzle (and so have many others working in the same direction – we’re keenly aware that we’re not the only show in town) and we’ve been sharing these regularly through our websites, papers and blogs. But, what does it take for these piecemeal findings to be taken up and to lead to wholesale change: ensuring that the post-MDG goals of universal access with sustainable WASH services can be achieved by 2030?
Small towns and peri-urban areas are by definition found in the grey area in between the truly urban and the truly rural. Also in terms of water supply, fifty shades of grey are found in these types of settlements. People living here often fall in between the cracks of urban utilities and rural water committees. Their water supplies have characteristics of both these service delivery models – though not necessarily the best of those two worlds.
Community rural water supply (RWS) in India is an orphan of partially implemented demand responsive sector reforms on the one hand and unsuccessful decentralisation on the other. Historically, rural water supply in India has been outside the sphere of governments (NRDWP 2013). The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment (Act 1992) made drinking water and sanitation a constitutional mandate of the three tier system of Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs). Even after two decades, the decentralisation process is an unaccomplished dream lying between de-concentration and devolution. In many states the progress is either stalled or reversed.
Stef Smits summarises some key points arising from the webinar and the discussion that followed:
Handpumps have still a role to play in 1) small dispersed rural communities [of less than let’s say 2000 people], and in 2) bigger or more dense communities as a complementary or back-up source to piped supplies. They are and will remain an important source of supply and need to have proper management arrangements. These arrangements should – as much as possible – follow arrangements for other communal supplies, or even drawing on good practices from urban management and when they are located close to a town they could even be managed by an urban provider under a “service area” approach
Professional management arrangements exist, but they do cost. The case of Vergnet comes down then to about 3 US$/family/month or 36 US$/family/year. This is in line with the WASHCost findings, which showed that all minor O&M ánd capital maintenance would be about 3 US$/person/year, or some 15 US$/family/year. But if you add the costs of professional support to that (e.g. in the form of handpump mechanics, or local government support), another 15 US$/family/year should be added, summing to about 30 US$/family/year. So, if we accept that this figure gives the right of order magnitude, rightfully the question may be asked on who pays for what.
I suspect that some of you, readers of this blog, are equal water nerds as I am, and that you also take your professional interest along on holiday. At least, I cannot resist visiting the odd water works or taking photographs of the local water and sanitation facilities during my holidays. This summer holiday I not only had the opportunity to take photos, but to live for a week the type of rural water situation, that I write about so much, but rarely experience in reality. As I spent my vacation on a family visit to my brother, who is managing a farm in the Moldovan rural village of Cuhureştii de Jos, I got some first-hand experience of the common problems around rural water supply and realized that some of the myths around it, are myths indeed.
“Comimos toda la carne; sólo nos quedan los huesos” (we ate all the meat; there are only bones to chew on now”, said Luis Romero of CONASA (the water and sanitation policy making body in Honduras), in response to the graphs below, when we presented these as part of the sharing of the results of the life-cycle costs analysis in Honduras.
What is it that IADB’s Max Valasquez Matute in Honduras finds ‘only a bit short of a miracle’? The decision by seven INGOs to align their programming in Honduras in support of an Everyone Forever movement aimed at delivering full coverage in sustainable rural water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Whether there was divine intervention or not, the meeting we attended on the 24 May between the assembled board members of the Millennium Water Alliance and the Mesa de Cooperantes (the donor coordination platform) of the Honduran WASH sector was pretty unusual – and very exciting.
Back in June and July of 2012, Triple-S underwent a mid-term assessment (MTA) by an excellent team led by Dr. Ben Ramalingam. The MTA was a hugely useful exercise, allowing the Triple-S team and our partners to take some time out from our day to day work to reflect on how we were doing. The MTA team held up a mirror to us as a project and process – in much the same way that Triple-S seeks to hold up a mirror to the rural water sector – allowing us to have a long hard look at ourselves.
With two presentations and a pre-launch side event, WASHTech was well represented at the IRC Monitoring Sustainable WASH Service Delivery symposium. The symposium and side events took place from 9-12 April 2013 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Introducing the TAF
André Olschewski (Skat) and Benedict Tuffuor (TREND Ghana) gave a general introduction to the Technology Applicability Framework (TAF) in a special session on the enabling environment. The session included a presentation on another tool, the Sustainability Monitoring Framework developed by the Dutch WASH Alliance.
Both presentations prompted a discussion about the number and variability of sustainability and how all these tools fit together. The presenters stressed that both tools fit in wider thinking around sustainability in the sector. Even though the tools are being developed in parallel, they both attempt to simplify the analysis of complex, variable data.
Sagar is an island at the mouth of the river Ganges where it meets the Bay of Bengal. Every year in January, about half a million pilgrims visit the island to worship at the holy Ganges. The hundreds of mobile toilet units standing on the empty festival terrain during the rest of the year are witness to the island’s authority’s efforts to ensure that the pilgrim’s stay on the island is as comfortable, hygienic and safe as possible. But the authorities also don’t forget about the 200.000 permanent inhabitants when it comes to sanitation. Together with the NGO Water For People (WFP) and other partners, it seeks to achieve full coverage in sanitation and water supply in the next few years.