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Does post-construction support to community-based water providers help to increase the sustainability of rural water supplies? And if it does, what are the most significant aspects of post-construction support providing more effective and efficient support? These questions are analysed in a recent report published by the Inter-American Development Bank.

The report 'Governance and sustainability of drinking water systems and sanitation in rural Colombia' (In Spanish: Gobernanza y Sostenibilidad de los Sistemas de Agua Potable y saneamiento rurales en Colombia) that was recently published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) makes a quantitative analysis of the impact of different post-construction models on the performance of rural water supply service providers and on the levels of service that users receive in forty water systems in three departments of Colombia.
The study, that was carried out end of 2011 by IRC and CINARA on behalf of IADB, shows that almost all service providers receive some sort of support. It turns out that those systems which receive a more structured type of support have better performing service providers, compared to those receiving support on an ad-hoc basis. The most significant factors contributing to the effectiveness of post-construction support are:

  • the degree of institutionalisation of the support function
  • institutional capacity to provide support: having a balanced mix of qualified staff
  • the frequency of support activities
  • having a support model, where the external agency acts as intermediary, linking the service provider to different institutions and their services, according to the needs

The full report is in Spanish, but does contain an abstract and executive summary in English. The report can be downloaded below.

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