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Towards a social action plan for water supply in peri-urban areas of La Paz

Published on: 23/01/2015

IRC, in partnership with Royal Haskoning-DHV is supporting the implementation of the Extension and Improvement of Water Supply Services in Chuquiaguillo, La Paz, Bolivia. The contribution of IRC is in strengthening the institutional capacity of the utility, EPSAS (Public and Social Water and Sanitation Company) in applying the national policies around social participation and the human right to water.

During the first support visit by IRC, in November 2014, an institutional assessment of EPSAS was made with respect to its capacity to apply the social dimension and the human right to water in the way it provides water supply services. This assessment confirmed the high commitment of EPSAS to a social-centered approach and the application of the human right to water, expressing both in its vision and mission. However, EPSAS faces institutional limitations in translating this commitment into its day-to-day operations and practices. One of the limitations is that EPSAS doesn't have an internal policy nor strategy, that elaborates the social approach and human right to water into its procedures and processes.

A central theme in the application of a social approach and the human right to water, is the need to have and use information about the most vulnerable groups of users, and the issues they face in accessing and use water and sanitation services. An important way of addressing this theme, is the application of a solidarity tariff by EPSAS (thereby following the national government policy), and measures to promote access to water and sanitation services by the poorest groups of the population. However, the assessement indicated that there is little evidence of the impact of the application of the solidarity tariff and other instruments. Are these instruments really benefitting the poorest? Is the solidarity tariff an effective instrument to facilitate access to water and sanitation for the most vulnerable groups?

IRC's role consists of providing technical advice to EPSAS in elaborating and applying a policy and social action plan, which is focussed at providing a water service of high quality, particularly to the lowest-income groups. These will need to be developed within a framework that allows citizens participation, maximum levels of transparency and accountability over service delivery. 

The social action plan will include the institutionalization of the social-centred policy and strategy, as well as the establishment of a process of monitoring service delivery against social indicators, and their use for improved planning. The monitoring will consist of the establishment of a base line, to be used to develop an awareness raising campaign, and training worksops around efficient water use and sanitary practices, targeted at differnet user groups. These activities will constitute important elements to ensure quality and sustainability in service delivery towards all population groups in the municipalities of El Alto and La Paz.

This work of IRC and EPSAS is a follow-up to the collaboration between Royal Haskoning-DHV in the preparatory phase of the project, in which IRC was responsible for the socio-economic feasibility study, of which capacity and willingness to pay for services was a central theme.