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TitleReflection on new trends in the water and sanitation sector : review on presentations at the Water Africa 94 Conference in Accra, Ghana 1-4 May 1994
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsBouman, D
Pagination16 p.: 3 boxes
Date Published1994-01-01
Place PublishedEde, The Netherlands
Keywordsburkina faso, community management, community participation, financing, funding agencies, gender, ghana, guinea, policies, rural areas, sanitation, urban areas, water supply

The change from the integrated approach of community participation and health education to community management of the water and sanitation sector was signalled in the West Africa 1994 Conference in Accra, Ghana. Developments in community management can be seen in projects in the UNDP-World Bank Regional Water and Sanitation Group for West Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Indonesia. The key elements of community management of the water and sanitation sector are: effective control of water resources vested in the local communities; decentralized, district-level support of community management with government promoting service provision; the encouragement of an active role in the process by the formal and informal private sector; an adherence to the demand-driven approach; the consideration of water as an economic commodity; and a special focus on women. Other approaches have changed as well: from a project to a programmatic approach; from the water agency as provider of free water to facilitator to achieve paid services; from a predetermined technology to a demand-driven choice; and an increase in the importance of information, education and communication.
The underlying reasons for these changes are that users must be responsible for maintenance to ensure sustainability, that agencies are no longer able to carry the cost of operation and maintenance, and that former concepts could not keep pace with population growth. The new approaches are seen as more sustainable, cost-effective and having a wider reach. The central assumption in the new market- oriented concept is that people are able to manage and finance the operation and maintenance of the water facility when they themselves have made the choice for the technology they want, and which is in line with their capacity to pay. Willingness and ability to pay will determine the selection of communities for programmes and also the level of sanitation technology proposed.
In this market-oriented approach users are trained to be good clients making good choices for the needs they have and the money they want to spend; users accept the consequences of their choice for future costs, operation and maintenance, and dependency on other agencies; and users are trained to manage the operation and maintenance and to finance it. Agencies (government and NGOs) are trained to be facilitators who train users to be clients; who protect clients by guaranteeing the functioning of other agencies and their supply of spares and services; and who give good after sales service. This paper stresses the need to separate the role of agencies as facilitators from their role as suppliers of technology. Governments, by providing guidelines, quality control and subsidies, and user associations both have a role to play in this free-marketing process. The paper observes that the emphasis on cost aspects and the need for cost recovery will lead donors to prefer projects which have the highest chance of a good turnover of revenue, which may favour the rich in the urban fringe or rural areas and may even empower men who commonly have control over money rather than increasing the participation of women in water supply and its management.
In describing a pilot project in twelve urban centres of northern Ghana, the paper observes that in four the concept is well implemented, in three full community management is expected in the coming years, but in five there is less enthusiasm due to the complexity of technology and the resistance of the community to take over responsibility for a utility for which they cannot foresee the consequences. The conclusion is that community management is an approach, not a formula and should never be forced on a community. The findings of pilot projects in West Africa are that the external input of external support agencies is a requirement and that community management of the sanitation component can never be a solution for the coverage of the investment costs, except for simple sanitary services like latrines. Pilot projects in rural areas of Ghana show that information, education and communication are key elements in achieving a community-managed water facility through a demand-driven approach and that in a rural setting interventions have to adapt in speed to the decision procedures within the village.

Notes17 ref.
Custom 1205.1, 305.1, 824
Original PublicationReader on new trends in the water and sanitation sector : papers presented at the Water Africa 94 Conference in Accra, 1-4 May 1994


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