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TitleManagement models for small towns water supply : lessons learned from case studies in the Philippines
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsRobinson, A
Pagination23 p. : 8 box., 2 fig., 1 map, photogr., 3 tab.
Date Published2003-06-01
PublisherWorld Bank Regional Water and Sanitation Group for East Asia and the Pacific
Place PublishedJakarta, Indonesia
Keywordscase studies, community participation, government organizations, low-income communities, philippines, private sector, sanitation, sdiurb, sdiwrm, small communities, sustainability, tariffs, urban areas, water resources management, water supply

This field note presents the findings from a study by the Water Supply and Sanitation Performance Enhancement Project (WPEP), which used case studies of fourteen small town water supply systems in the Philippines to examine ‘factors of success’ for different management models. Six different management models were identified:

  • Local Government Unit (LGU) – direct management by local government
  • Water District (WD) systems – government owned and controlled corporations
  • Rural Water Supply Associations (RWSA ) – non-profit water user associations in rural areas and urban areas in which the members hold no equity
  • Water Cooperative (COOP) - community-based associations in which the members do hold equity
  • Private Sector (PS) systems
  • Cluster models, a hybrid management model, which refers to an LGU or Water District that provides water supply services to groups, or clusters, of small towns (through one or more water supply systems).

The study combined Methodology for Participatory Assessments (MPA) with specialist assessments (technical, institutional, environmental, financial and social) for the case studies. It focused on overtly successful or unsuccessful cases, in order to search out and highlight factors of success or key constraints.

The key lesson from the case studies was that water supply systems using community-based management models (e.g. Water Cooperatives and RWSAs) are the most consistently successful in small towns. Water Cooperatives and RWSAs are locally embedded institutions that prosper in the highly politicized small towns of the Philippines, while strong community involvement preserves their autonomy (political and financial) and ensures transparency and accountability.

The successful community-based management bodies are more sophisticated than typical community management models. A key factor is the professional support they receive, which allows them to provide costefficient and well-planned services, while retaining their local advantages and demand responsiveness. Nearby Water Districts, which manage their own large urban water supply systems, provide a ready source of technical assistance, and have enabled community-based management bodies to introduce commercial accounting systems, domestic water meters, and well-organized billing and collection systems.

As small towns grow and their water supply systems become more complex, professional water utility management skills become more important. For this reason, it has been argued that community-based management models are not suitable for small towns water supply. However, the lessons learned from this study suggest that professional support helps community-based management bodies to evolve with their systems, and allows an incremental transition from community-based to commercial water supply management.

Custom 1202.3, 822



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