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This report analyses an Indo-German bilateral pilot project concerning community water supply in Himachal Pradesh, during which villages were provided with gravity fed drinking water systems.

TitleGravity-fed water supply in Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh
Publication TypeResearch Report
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHarris, B, Brighu, U, Poonia, R
Pagination26 p.
PublisherIRC, Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur (MNIT)
Publication LanguageEnglish

The villages in this study of community water supply in Himachal Pradesh were provided with gravity fed drinking water systems under an Indo-German bilateral pilot project which worked in nine villages. There was significant software support from the state Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) department during the implementation phase, but there has been no ongoing support. Two of the villages continue to manage the systems effectively on a highly volunteerism basis, providing a high quality service to users, whilst the third village struggles to manage the maintenance of the system due to geographical issues. Service levels suffer as a result. Although the pilot project provided a template for wholesale community management of rural water supplies, the IPH has adopted a much more limited form of community management for wider implementation. Here only operation (not ownership or maintenance) of the final distribution system is handed over communities. Tariffs are collected by the IPH who pay the full costs of running the system.

Key points are:

  • Communities can manage water supplies with limited support if the system is technologically simple, and there is substantial up-front support. The two most successful villages have been able to continue running the system in a sustainable manner, but have also adapted management and operation structures to meet their needs. For example, in one village every household had to send one member to the monthly VWSC meeting, with a INR 10 fine for non-attendance.
  • Transforming public water bodies to support community management requires large scale programmes, small scale pilots can be ignored. The IPH-GIZ project worked with nine villages, out of 53 thousand habitations across the state. Although a dedicated project unit was set up to manage the programme this did not have influence within the wider IPH, in part due to the small scale of the programme. As a result, the IPH did not adopt the model of community management developed in the pilot, implementing a much more limited form of community involvement.
  • Community management does not ensure equity. In the two most successful villages there was unanimous agreement that new families should not be able to obtain a household connection (even with payment) as they had not contributed to the construction of the system. Traditionally community cohesion is seen as a strong internal plus for community management, but this an example of the adverse effects of this social structure.
Citation Key81969



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