Rural water supply access in Tanzania: why has it stagnated?

re-posted from:http://www.ircwash.org/blog/rural-water-supply-access-tanzania-why-has-it-stagnated

Despite massive investments in rural water supply in Tanzania, the number of people with access to improved water sources has not increased. This begs the question, what could be the reason for this stagnation?

This blog post is written by Lukas Kwezi and Catarina Fonseca 

Investments in rural water supply in Tanzania have increased significantly over the past decade. According to a 2015/16 water sector status report by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, about US$ 500 million has been spent on rural water supply since the start of the Water Sector Development Programme (WSDP) in 2006, with about one-third of total spending coming from government.

This increased spend has largely been due to the drive to accelerate delivery of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and political commitment to meet the Tanzania Development Vision 2025 through various initiatives such as the Big Results Now (BRN).

For every new person served with an improved water source, there are two new persons without access

The Tanzanian population has tripled from 12.3 million in 1967 to 44.9 million in 2012. In 2015, due to reduced mortality rates and persistently high fertility rate, the total population had grown to almost 50 million, with about 70% of this population living in rural areas. Despite massive urbanisation, rural population growth was three times higher than urban population growth during this period.

However, access to drinking water coverage has only increased by one percentage point from 45% in 1990 to 46% in 2015 (see Figure 1). This clearly indicates that the investments made in the sub-sector have only managed to keep pace with population growth rather than expanding access to new population.

Figure 1: WHO/UNICEF JMP, URT (2015 Update)
Figure 1: WHO/UNICEF JMP, URT (2015 Update)

Population growth offers opportunities for investments and economic growth, but many agree that the increase in population is putting a huge strain on provision of basic services and resources, especially water. Recent data from the World Bank shows that the average volume of renewable freshwater per capita per year in Tanzania has declined by 80% since independence (from 7,862 m3 in 1962 to 1,621 m3 in 2014), putting the country in the water-stressed category. Water resource challenges are going to increase with growing agricultural intensification combined with climate change in the coming years. These facts highlight the importance of formulating water sector strategies that address the needs of the current and future population.

Where did the money go?

Construction of new schemes has been prioritised over building effective systems for operation and maintenance. For example, recent analysis shows that during the period 2012-2015, 75% of the expenditure in the rural water subsector went to the construction of new infrastructures, while only 14% went to recurrent expenditure – mainly salaries and allowances at local government level. While focus on new construction is not necessarily wastage of resources, the bias towards new construction compromised a focus on maintaining old and existing schemes. We all know that ‘Old is Gold’, but old gold must be smelted and polished to maintain its value.

On the other hand, over 80% of schemes constructed were motorised schemes with average per capita costs of US$ 24-90, deviating from the envisioned 48% hand pumps during programme design. Although the costs compare reasonably well regionally, the change in technology, meant that the programme was able to reach only half of the target population. Besides, motorised schemes come with their own risks: they are often costly and complex to operate and maintain.

Sustainability challenge: it’s not the pipes, it’s the institutions and its people

Studies in Sub-Saharan Africa show that for local authorities to provide sustainable water services, they should spend between US$ 1-3 per person per year on direct support costs and US$1.5-7 per person per year on major maintenance. However, evidence shows that in Tanzania, local authorities spend only 6-10% of what they should spend to ensure sustainable services.

Local authorities often lack adequate funds for direct support. This means that they are unable to fulfil their administration, contract management, and operation and maintenance support functions, to ensure sustainability of water services, and prevent future problems. Also, when unexpected major maintenance occurs (e.g. renewal or replacement of a pump), local authorities and communities often do not have the resources.

Anecdotal evidence from different regions in the country shows that it may take between 3-6 months to negotiate and settle the costs of repairs. During this period, even if major repairs cost only US$ 100, people revert to using unimproved water sources. Studies estimate that about one-third of water points in Tanzania become non-functional after two years of operation, forcing people to return to using unprotected, unsafe sources, indicating low levels of sustainability of rural water services. The implication is that a significant number of people that may have already been provided with first time access fall back to using unimproved water sources.

Rough estimates show that 5.3 million people could be provided with improved water sources if the bulk of non-functional water points were made functional. If this trend is not reversed, reaching the bottom 40% is going to be even more difficult.

What needs to change?

The second phase of the Water Sector Development Programme (WSDP) began in July 2016, with the aim to provide access to clean, safe water to 85% of the rural population by 2020/21. The government estimates that about US$ 862 million would be required to finance the plan. This is a very ambitious target but achievable if sector stakeholders can adopt new approaches and ways of working beyond the narrow focus on new construction.

First, we need to shift incentives and accountability (at all levels of government, politicians, donors, private sector, local authorities and communities) from delivering water points to delivery of sustainable services. The government has now embarked on results-based financing approaches to rural water supply. However, the implementation should be accompanied by a change in mind-set of planners, politicians, engineers, donors and communities. They need to realise that in order to deliver quality services and achieve the desired outcomes, it is not enough just to create an infrastructure (school, health facility, water point). Equally, we also need to strengthen and invest in the institutional system that manages and maintains the infrastructure.

Secondly, we need to get better at monitoring results. This encompasses cultivating a culture of accurate and timely reporting; measuring and verification of whether results reported have been achieved or not, and ensuring information generated is used to inform planning, budgeting and decision-making processes. New technologies can really create a ‘data revolution’ that will allow government and citizens to monitor and continuously improve service provision – if it’s part of the governance and formal accountability mechanisms.

Thirdly, we need to broaden the approach and adopt alternative service delivery models; for example by considering self-supply as a complementary water service delivery model in areas which are difficult to reach. This would mean adopting a broader financing framework to rural water supply that goes beyond capital investments for community-managed water supply systems.

Lastly, the current water policy, which assumes that communities are able to cover full costs related to operation and maintenance of water infrastructures, needs to be reviewed, along with clarifying financial responsibilities and accountability by different parties for capital investments, minor maintenance, major maintenance and direct support costs.

Disclaimer: Lukas Kwezi currently works for the UK Department for International Development (DFID) as Water and Sanitation Adviser, based in Dar es Salaam. He writes blog posts in his spare time. Though he may talk about the work he does in the sector, this is neither a corporate nor a political blog and the opinions and ideas expressed here are solely his own, not those of his employers. 

Self-supply highlights from 2016

This is a review of the 2016 highlights from a Self-supply point of view: Events, papers, presentations, policy breakthroughs, etc.

We are well into 2017 already, but it is still a good moment to look back to some highlights of 2016 from the point of view of Self-supply:

  • In the first half of 2016, the UNICEF-funded studies of Self-supply in Zambia and Zimbabwe were completed. The studies showcase these two experiences at scale, and they are the fundament for making an economic case for Self-Supply , demonstrating that using Self-supply as part of the strategies to reacp1430235h full coverage can be very cost-effective.
  • In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a 2nd national meeting on Self-supply was organized bringing together dozens of national stakeholders involved in the scaling up of Self-supply at country level through the national ONE WASH Programme.
  • The 2016 edition of the WEDC conference also saw its share of Self-supply: A paper presented by Annemarieke Maltha (on experiences of the SMART Centre approach in Tanzania) and one by Sally Sutton on the experiences in Zambia, among others.
  • The RWSN mini-series of webinars in the autumn 2016 included an event on Self-supply, focusing on the economic analysis of country strategies in Zambia and Zimbabwe (see recordings of the webinar here).
  • Self-supply also made a splash at the 7th RWSN Forum in Abidjan (29.11 – 03.12.2016), with 7 sessions related to Self-supply (see a list of Self-supply papers here). Apart from the frequent appearance of the Self-supply Theme in the sessions it also was notable to see how often the term came up in discussions and in plenary speeches, including within the panel of the closing ceremony.
  • At the same event, a bottom-up, spontaneous initiative of a small group of people helped to engage in conversations with many of the participants of the Forum and resulted in 150 signing a paper confirming their personal approval and support of the Self-supply approach.
  • As one possible way of implementing Self-Supply, the initiative of SMART Centre Group emerged and gained traction throughout the year. SMART Centres are business incubators which foster the local private sector in the WASH sector. Currently, there are SMART Centres in 5 countries formally recognized as such (see smartcentregroup.com), but many other organizations are implementing similar concepts around the world, and it will be interesting to see how these different initiatives can support each other and create synergies – or even merge – in the future.

Overall, it has been a fantastic year for Self-supply. Especially if we consider that the term “Self-supply” did not even exist before 2004 (when it was created by RWSN), it is remarkable that after a relatively slow process of foundation building we are now witnessing the moment when Self-supply is getting into mainstream – and hopefully we will see a wider use and further development of the concept in the near future. On behalf of RWSN, and particularly Skat as the lead agency for the Self-supply theme, we are encouraged by the results achieved so far and look forward to the next phase of development – and to another year of progress, exchange and learning with our RWSN partners.

If you are interested in Self-supply, you may want to subscribe to the Self-supply Dgroup (https://dgroups.org/rwsn/selfsupply_rwsn), or check out the respective part of the RWSN website: https://dgroups.org/rwsn/selfsupply_rwsn.

 

Matthias Saladin is the Theme leader of Accerating Self-supply at the Rural Water Supply Network. You can leave comments or questions here or write to him: matthias.saladin@skat.ch.

 

Can Self-Supply Save the World?

Some highlights from the RWSN Forum and thoughts on 12 years of a learning journey, by Matthias Saladin, Skat

Of course the title is a rhetorical question – no one really expects one specific approach to transform the whole water sector, let alone save the world. Nevertheless, Self-supply as a concept is gaining traction and prominence in the sector as I witnessed during the 7th RWSN Forum, which took place from November 29 to December 02 in Abidjan. Just a couple of years ago, the term “Self-supply” did not even exist. In fact, it was coined within RWSN as part of a strategic planning exercise in 2004, where Self-supply was defined as one of the flagships of RWSN. Of course, people providing water for themselves (“Self-supply”) is a process which has been going on for millennia and all over the planet (for example, some 44 million people in the US today rely on Self-supply for their drinking water), but Self-supply as a term was born in 2004, and the idea that this approach can (and should) be fostered by specific activities and frameworks both by government and other actors still is relatively new to many people, even within the water sector.

In this blog entry, I would like to reflect on some aspects of this learning journey of the past 12 years, and I invite you to reply, discuss, disagree, criticize or support, whatever suits you best.

Flashlights on Self-supply at the 7th RWSN Forum

But first things first: The 7th RWSN Forum was a massive success, both in terms of participation and outreach, but also specifically for the Theme of Self-supply: I identified at least 7 sessions where papers related to Self-supply were presented, some of which I was not even aware of before the Forum. For example, Sara Marks of Eawag (Switzerland) presented some results of a study from Burkina Faso (feel free to read the respective paper and presentation) where they looked into the various benefits of a project implementing a (subsidized) Self-supply approach to facilitate multiple-use water services (MUS). Among other things, they found that the water of households who had invested in an upgraded private well and equipped it with a Rope Pump was of better quality than that of unimproved wells.

Meanwhile, session 6A was designed to provide an update on the “state of the art” in Self-supply, including an overview paper of André Olschewski, a case study from Sally Sutton on Self-supply in some African countries, an overview of how Self-supply can be accelerated in Ethiopia, and an example of how capacities in the private sector can be strengthened through SMART Centres (or watch the movie on the SMART Centre in Zambia here).

In several other sessions, specific aspects of Self-supply were analyzed in more detail, for example by Patrick Alubbe of water.org, who made a case for micro-credit as a scalable intervention who can help more people gaining access to higher level of drinking water services (see the paper of Gupta and Labh and Patrick’s presentation).

Making a Splash – and causing allergic reactions

Apart from this wide and deep presence of Self-supply in the thematic sessions, the concept also made a splash at key moments of the RWSN Forum: For example, it was prominently mentioned by the final remarks of Mr. Jonathan Kamkwalala, a senior manager of the World Bank, during the closing ceremony. Moreover, more than 150 people signed an informal “Call to action”, which suggests that Self-supply deserves more attention on behalf of governments, donors, civil society organizations, researchers, and other key players. The undersigned expressed a “strong interest in developing support for Self-supply within our own spheres of activity and urge all development partners to explore this approach and reach its considerable potential”. Given this strong support by a large number of people, I hope that we will see a lot of action in this field in the weeks and months to come – for example by starting to monitor and report on Self-supply within organizations, regions,  and eventually countries and globally. As we know, we do not manage what we do not measure, so measuring definitively would be a good start.

In spite of these highlights and an overall strong presence of Self-supply during the Forum, not everything is rosy in regard to Self-supply. On one hand, I observed that while many people recognize the important role Self-supply already plays and will have to play to reach the SDGs, with another group of people it creates almost allergic reactions. Having listened to some of these people, I think I identified three areas of conflict, which are related to three misconceptions around Self-supply:

1.       Self-supply means abandoning the poor.

2.       Self-supply means that government has no role to play.

3.       Self-supply is incompatible with the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation.

For the moment, I will only respond to the third misconception.  It can readily be clarified, simply by listening of the presentation of the UN Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation during a webinar hosted by RWSN last year (e.g., read this summary), where he makes it clear that Self-supply is in line with the progressive realization of these Human Rights. And this hint also helps clarifying the first misconception: Self-supply does not imply abandoning the poor, but supporting them in a different way – rather than the government itself providing services, it facilitates and strengthens the private sector (and civil society organizations) to provide them. Thus, rather than abandoning the poor, what Supported Self-supply does is actually empower them and enable them to take on a more active role in moving up the ladder of water services.

Importantly, the Government has to play a role in Supported Self-supply – in fact, it is a crucial role consisting of several functions (adequate policy framework, building up capacities, oversight of the private sector, etc.), but this will be the topic of my next blog. So for the moment, I leave it there, confirming that the Government is a key actor in Supported Self-supply.

Striking a balance

Overall, the concept of Self-supply clearly has an important role to play if we want to provide some (even if it’s just basic) level of services to everyone – there simply is no alternative in reaching specific target groups, especially in the remote rural areas. However, we also have to be aware that Self-supply has its limitations, and that there are aspects related to Self-supply which have to be addressed with a lot of care (e.g., quality of the services installed, potential over-exploitation of water resources by private households). I also perceived that several people and organizations are looking for shiny examples of countries where Supported Self-supply was implemented at scale, which then could be replicated elsewhere (the “Blueprint Fallacy” which unfortunately is quite common in the water sector, particularly among global players).

However, at the moment there are only a few such examples (e.g. manual drilling in Nigeria/Lagos, Domestic Rainwater Harvesting in Thailand, the Upgraded Family Wells in Zimbabwe), and many of these cases refer to contexts where government services were weak or collapsing – which do not make for a good example for promotion, particularly with government agencies. With all due respect, but which government agency would like to copy the experience of Zimbabwe in the 1990s? Thus, the examples are not as shiny as we wish.

Nevertheless, the fact is that Self-supply actually took off in some places while government services, institutions and the whole economy was collapsing – a clear hint to the power of this approach, even under difficult conditions. But we also need to figure out how governments can foster the approach – that is, how to better Support Self-supply.

The way forward

In spite of all the progress made I think there still is a lot of work to be done both within RWSN and beyond. Here are just a few areas of work a group of “Self-Suppliers” identified during an informal conversation at the Forum:

  • Revisit the basic terms, definitions and concepts and make them more intuitive to understand.
  • Help people, particularly within government and funding agencies, understand better the key role government has to play to support Self-supply
  • In cooperation with research institutions, improve our understanding of the potential and limits of Self-supply, and the variety of benefits it can generate (not only in health, but also in productivity, income-generation, equality and non-discrimination, inclusiveness, well-being, cost-savings to government agencies, etc.).
  • Keep up the dialogue with people and organizations who think that Self-supply is a nightmare and should be hindered wherever possible. Their arguments will help us guide future research and for making a better case where and why Self-supply has a role to play.
  • Engage with actors (particularly non-profit organizations) who undermine existing and flourishing markets by giving away stuff for free. Giving away products and services for free is not Self-supply, does not build up capacity with anyone and damages existing supply chains.

Thus, looking back to the first 12 years of promoting Self-supply, I think we have come a long way. Given that before 2004 the term did not even exist, the change is truly remarkable – and RWSN was the lead agency of making this sea change in public awareness possible. At the same time, we still need to work on the fundaments, the walls and the windows of the Self-supply house, and we need to make them strong enough to keep growing in the coming 12 years and beyond. I hope that many of you will be part of this journey, and I invite you – as a small first step – to subscribe to the Dgroup on Accelerating Self-supply, which is a platform for discussion, exchange and mutual learning, and to contribute to the dialogue on that platform. I look forward to hearing from many of you there!

Onwards and Upwards,

Matthias

Handing over Self-supply

 

André Olschewski will be leaving Skat and handing over his role as Theme Leader for Accelerating Self-supply (ACCESS) to Matthias Saladin. André reflects on the last five years:

Dear all,

There is widespread recognition that many people particularly rural dwellers improve their water supplies with their own investments. This was barely part of the discourse when RWSN launched the Self-supply theme and term in 2004 under the leadership of Dr. Sally Sutton, supported by WSP and UNICEF. As with any innovations, taking the concept of Self-supply from the periphery towards mainstream development has not been simple or an easy journey.

Continue reading “Handing over Self-supply”

My Water, My Business

activities as part of World Water Day 2015 events, 19-20 March 2015, Addis Ababa

Sustainable development of water requires fresh thinking and new innovation. Ethiopia is pioneering new approaches in water, sanitation and hygiene (WasH) that draw upon the resources of local people, communities and entrepreneurs to further improve water security, food security and wealth. ‘My Water, My Business’ is a series of linked events organised as part of the 2015 World Water Day celebrations to bring attention to these household-level efforts. The events will connect sector policy-makers, development partners, professionals and engaged local governments and communities. The overall message is that to complement the efforts of utilities, woredas and other traditional service providers, households can do a lot themselves to improve their water and sanitation facilities and related hygiene practices. You can improve your own water supply, sanitation and hygiene.

WaSH product fair starts Thursday 19 March

Continue reading “My Water, My Business”

Self-Supply at Scale: Lessons from rural Bangladesh

Image
Shops like this one satisfy local demand for new pumps and replacement parts. Pumps, like ipods, come in a range of colors! (photo: J. Annis, 2013)

by Jonathan Annis is a sanitation and innovation specialist with the USAID-funded WASHplus project (www.washplus.org). His views do not represent those of USAID or the U.S. Government.

I recently traveled to southeastern Bangladesh to support WASHplus’s local implementing partner WaterAid as it begins a multi-year project in the coastal belt. The coastal belt is a marshy delta formed by Himalayan sediments transported thousands of miles by an extensive river network that settle as they reach the Bay of Bengal. Surface water is ubiquitous, and flooding—from tidal flows, excessive rainfall, or cyclones—is an annual event. I had never been in an environment so waterlogged.   Continue reading “Self-Supply at Scale: Lessons from rural Bangladesh”

Still or sparkling? Lessons from a WASH holiday

Rural water challenges are not just an African issue…

water services that last

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.

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Providing drinking water is not enough to end poverty

by Francis Mujuni, World Vision Uganda

Francis Mujuni, World Vision, Uganda
Francis Mujuni, World Vision, Uganda

In his blog post, Henk Holtslag highlighted that muitple use of water is very critical in ending poverty. I have already shown in my earlier discussions that provision of safe drinking water is not enough. In the developing countries where agriculture employs the bulk of the poor people, availability of water for families, their animals and crops is very essential. When we talk of “provision” the quick question is by who? Self supply then becomes the ideal solution. But how many of our governments, Communities and development agencies are promoting this concept? Do they know much about it? Do they know it exist and it is very feasible?

Continue reading “Providing drinking water is not enough to end poverty”

Sustainable water services take ‘Water & Health’ Conference by storm

Dr Grace Oluwasanya, Federal University of Agriculture, Nigeria presenting on “Water User’s Perception to Health Impacts: Implications for Self Supply Water Safety Plans”

I was lucky enough to attend this year’s Water & Health Conference at the University of North Carolina. I was even luckier to make it as the skirts of Hurricane Sandy swept up the Atlantic coast before crashing into the American North East.

It was a great opportunity to meet, face-to-face, many RWSN members who have been communicating with online and meet a whole bunch of new people. It was really inspiring to hear their stories and find out more about their organisations and research. Here are just some of my highlights from the event:
Continue reading “Sustainable water services take ‘Water & Health’ Conference by storm”