Services support for sustainability

Thoughts and research on how water systems can supported when operational

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Improve International

If something goes wrong with your toilet or your sink, who do you call?  Unless you are pretty handy, you call a plumber, and you pay the plumber.  Similarly, the concept of services support, also known post construction support (PCS) recognizes that a rural community water committee might not be able to deal with all possible situations that affect its water point/system or toilets no matter how well trained they are.

Community management has been built into many water programs since the 1990s, but in the 2000s concerns arose about the ability of rural communities to manage systems without support like follow-up training or expert advice. Combine this with the fact that up until recently, there was very little broad scale information on how much it cost to operate and maintain rural water systems around the world.

What types of post-construction support are typically provided? …

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“A bit more for some” may not be a bad idea

A great report from Stef on the RWSN Management & Support workshop two weeks ago

water services that last

Two weeks ago, the “management and support” working group of the RWSN had its first meeting. This meeting focused specifically on management models and support arrangements for piped water supply in small towns. As rural settlements become bigger, a shift is made from point sources – like boreholes with handpumps – to piped systems. This trend has happened in Latin America and parts of Asia, and is now about to start in Africa and South Asia as well, as argued in the background paper by Marieke Adank. And as there is a shift to piped systems, users may actually want to shift towards higher levels of service. The question is whether that is not a bad idea?

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What does it take to sustain sustainability?

water services that last

As argued several times in this blog, post-construction support is one of the keys to sustainability of rural water supplies. One element of post-construction support is monitoring of aspects such as service levels and the performance of service providers, through which the support providers can better target their assistance. The last few years have seen a boom in efforts to set up information and monitoring systems of rural water supplies in many countries. Some were in first instance a one-off mapping exercise of all water points in a country; others were developed with the aim of regular updating for ongoing monitoring purposes. Particularly, cellphone technology has been instrumental in speeding up this process, as it is used in systems like FLOW (Field Level Operations Watch). A key question that comes back in the discussions on the topic (see for example the excellent discussion on the Rural Water Supply Network’s

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