Published on: 27/05/2013
The professionalisation of community based-management means moving away from an approach based purely on volunteerism, towards a more professional, competent and effective management of rural water services working to agreed standards, and with greater transparency and accountability.
Community-based management has long been established as the principal service delivery model for providing water to rural populations in developing countries. But this model has limitations: voluntary water committees which are responsible for maintaining water systems may not always be recognised under local government by-laws or national legislation and policy. This informal legal position may leave water committees unable to operate effectively; for example, by not being able to access credit, bank loans or to legally contract support services. The capacity of volunteer committees to run and manage water systems can be greatly eroded by lack of continuity, as trained volunteers resign, leave the area, forget their initial training or no longer have time or willingness to undertake management on a voluntary basis. Inadequate external monitoring and support lead to poor technical and financial management of water services, and ultimately to system breakdowns and service failure.
Drivers of professionalisation
The transition of community-based management from basic village level operation and maintenance to more professionalised management is driven by a number of factors:
These drivers may lead to community-based organisation to become more professionalised, by for example hiring paid-for staff, like operators or plumbers to do specific tasks. It also includes the application of good management by the community-based organisations.
These processes can be supported in several ways:
IRC is involved in several projects and programmes that seek to set up more professional arrangements for management of rural and small-town water supplies in countries like India or Uganda. We do so by assessing the degree of professionalisation of current service provider arrangements and the potential, the costs and the benefits of more professional arrangements.