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Community-managed water supplies in rural Jaipur: the Swajaldhara scheme 15 years on

The villages in this case study (located in Jaipur District, Rajasthan) have been provided with drinking water supplies through the Swajaldhara programme: an early initiative by the Government of India to promote widespread community management of rural water supplies. Although the have been provided with high quality infrastructure, and receive improved water supplies (typically household connections), the long term success in individual villages is variable. Whilst the state of Rajasthan does provide limited on-going support through the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), this is largely limited to technical issues and is reactionary – dependent on villages recognising the problems they face and seeking support. This has allowed community service providers in some villages of the villages studied to fail, resulting in a reduced service to households, and there are concerns over sustainability in others.
Some of the key points are:

  • Community management can work with minimal support, but is susceptible to failure: In this study the PHED only provides minimal, mostly technical, support to communities. Despite this two of the community service providers studied manage the water supply successfully, and on an apparently sustainable basis. However, this modality of support does allow community service providers to fail, leading to a poor service to communities.
  • Communities must be provided with a sustainable water source.In all three of the 'best practice' villages, water committees expressed concern with the water source: either due to fluoride contamination or insufficient quantity. The source is ultimately the limiting factor in the service that can be provided, and providing complex treatment of establishing new sources is beyond the technical and financial capabilities of community service providers.
  • Water systems must keep pace with economic development. The villages studied have experienced varying degrees of urbanisation, which has led to increased household wealth and a corresponding increase in demand for water for domestic purposes (for example, in water coolers). The systems, designed for only 40 lpcd, are no longer able to supply sufficient water, leading to households utilising alternative sources, potentially jeopardising the financial sustainability of the water supply systems.
  • Public water utilities must respond to changing funding patterns.The Government of India is increasingly moving to channelling the majority of funding through Panchyat Raj Institutions, yet the Rajastan PHED remains focused on centralised, engineering-focused interventions rather than supporting community service providers. This shift needs to happen, but can only happen with sufficient support from senior managers and state politicians.
TitleCommunity-managed water supplies in rural Jaipur: the Swajaldhara scheme 15 years on
Publication TypeResearch Report
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsHarris, B., Brighu, U., Poonia, R.
Pagination40 p. : 7 fig., 22 tab.
Date Published07/2015
PublisherIRC and Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur (MNIT)
Place PublishedJaipur, India
Publication LanguageEnglish
Abstract

The villages in this case study (located in Jaipur District, Rajasthan) have been provided with drinking water supplies through the Swajaldhara programme: an early initiative by the Government of India to promote widespread community management of rural water supplies. Although the have been provided with high quality infrastructure, and receive improved water supplies (typically household connections), the long term success in individual villages is variable. Whilst the state of Rajasthan does provide limited on-going support through the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), this is largely limited to technical issues and is reactionary – dependent on villages recognising the problems they face and seeking support. This has allowed community service providers in some villages of the villages studied to fail, resulting in a reduced service to households, and there are concerns over sustainability in others.
Some of the key points are:

  • Community management can work with minimal support, but is susceptible to failure: In this study the PHED only provides minimal, mostly technical, support to communities. Despite this two of the community service providers studied manage the water supply successfully, and on an apparently sustainable basis. However, this modality of support does allow community service providers to fail, leading to a poor service to communities.
  • Communities must be provided with a sustainable water source.In all three of the 'best practice' villages, water committees expressed concern with the water source: either due to fluoride contamination or insufficient quantity. The source is ultimately the limiting factor in the service that can be provided, and providing complex treatment of establishing new sources is beyond the technical and financial capabilities of community service providers.
  • Water systems must keep pace with economic development. The villages studied have experienced varying degrees of urbanisation, which has led to increased household wealth and a corresponding increase in demand for water for domestic purposes (for example, in water coolers). The systems, designed for only 40 lpcd, are no longer able to supply sufficient water, leading to households utilising alternative sources, potentially jeopardising the financial sustainability of the water supply systems.
  • Public water utilities must respond to changing funding patterns.The Government of India is increasingly moving to channelling the majority of funding through Panchyat Raj Institutions, yet the Rajastan PHED remains focused on centralised, engineering-focused interventions rather than supporting community service providers. This shift needs to happen, but can only happen with sufficient support from senior managers and state politicians.
Notes

References and appendices not included.

Citation Key81279

Disclaimer

The copyright of the documents on this site remains with the original publishers. The documents may therefore not be redistributed commercially without the permission of the original publishers.