This research report describes the community management of successful drinking water supply systems in Meghalaya.
|Tribal communities managing the water supply – a success story from Meghalaya
|Year of Publication
|Saraswathy, R, Vijayaram, G
|IRC, Centre of Excellence for Change Chennai (CEC)
Meghalaya, the homeland of clouds, is located in the North-Eastern part of India. The State has a very unique ethnicity, strong traditions of governance and is endowed with abundant natural resources, mainly springs and streams. The State has the distinction of being one of the wettest regions in India with maximum rainfall of 12,000 mm in Cherapunjee. This research report pertains to the community management of successful drinking water supply systems in the context of the Meghalaya.
In the State, there are two departments of the government, the Public Health Engineering (PHED)and the Soil and Water Conservation (S&WCD), providing facilities for ensuring safe drinking water for the community. Besides the PHED constructed gravity based piped water supply schemes, the S&WCD promoted 'spring tapping chambers', commonly called 'community wells', which also play a major role in ensuring safe water for the community. The difficult terrain and the high labour cost in laying pipelines make the capital investment high in the piped water supply schemes. In all the best practices studied, the community manages the service delivery without any external support in Kleihshnong Sohra and Raitsalia (Mihmyntdu), and with partial support from the PHED in Mawklot. While in Raitsalia, the water is pumped up from a spring source to the distribution tank, in the other villages the schemes are totally dependent on gravity flow. The annual operating expenditure is about INR 51 per person in the case of the best practice at the State level.
The analysis found that both the PHED and S&WCD work intensively at capital investment hardware, in building the necessary infrastructure for the community. However, there is no software input at the implementation or pre-implementation stage to involve the community or to educate them about the operation and maintenance of the facilities. If the systems remain unchanged, the community can manage by themselves. This may not be the case when they have to adopt new technologies such as using an electric pump to lift water from the source that is unavoidable if the service is to meet the growing demand for water associated with the changing life-styles. This will necessitate incorporating a software component at the preparation and implementation stages of the next level of capital investment.