A sum of money granted by the state or a public body to help an industry or business keep the price of a commodity or service low
— Oxford English Dictionary
Rural Water Services ARE Subsidized
Even the United States has subsidies for rural water services. This doesn’t make something unsustainable. However, it does create a critical need for clarity of the total cost of the services, how it is funded, and how it will continue to be funded. There also needs to be a good definition of what the costs are (CapEx vs OpEx vs CapManEx). Thankfully our friends at IRC have laid this out here.
I’ve spent the last week in the Mopti Region of northern Mali supporting a USAID/WASHplus WASH & Nutrition initiative led by CARE. While behavior change communication related to household- and community-level sanitation, hygiene, and infant nutrition practices is the primary focus of the project, a small sum of funds is dedicated to rehabilitating community water supplies.
The conditions in Mali, as in much of the Sahel, have attracted a plethora of international NGOs, foundations, and do-gooders of every size and intention; increasing access to safe water is a focal point of many of their interventions. The functionality of rural water supplies in Mopti is difficult to ascertain. A number of my colleagues agree that the database of water points maintained by the regional office of the Ministry of Water includes less than 50 percent of the water points existing in the countryside.
Anyone who works in the water sector cannot have missed the various consultations and debates on the post-2015 goals for water and sanitation, with the official one taking place here, but also good online discussions, such as the one on The Broker online. At the same time, technical proposals have been developed by working groups on water, sanitation and hygiene, as nicely presented here by my colleague Catarina Fonseca. The consensus in both the technical proposals and the discussions around them is the vision of universal coverage. The difference lies in the time frame: can it be achieved in our life time? Or is that just wishful thinking? Over the past year, this blog has paid lots of attention to the “Forever” side of “Everyone, Forever”, as Water For People have so compellingly called it. For the coming period expect more posts here on the…