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Understanding resource implications of the “plus” in community management of rural water supply systems in India : the case of Gram Vikas in Odisha

This study investigates support given to community service providers in Odisha by Gram Vikas, an internationally acclaimed NGO, and assesses the level of service achieved through this arrangement. Consumers in the best practice villages were found to receive high levels of service and to be very satisfied, confirming the effectiveness of service provision.

The study found that water committees manage the schemes effectively and that there is a high degree of community participation throughout the service delivery cycle. Service providers could further increase professionalisation through regular water quality testing and external auditing of accounts. Tariffs in best practice villages cover recurring costs, including electricity, and are set in cooperation with the community, respecting local preferences.
Gram Vikas was found to give intensive support and capacity building prior to scheme implementation, leading to rather independent service providers. After the initial handholding, support is mostly given on request, which seems to work effectively, because of the good communication channels and quick response by Gram Vikas. The institutional assessment showed very high scores for the enabling support organisation, especially on the leadership and community orientation indicator.

Costs for supporting service providers by Gram Vikas were estimated at INR 33 per person per year for direct support and INR 8 per person per year for indirect support. Initial capacity building and mobilisation was found to cost INR 89 per person, which is about 3% of the capital costs for infrastructure implementation. This is a comparatively high percentage and shows the emphasis put on work with communities before construction starts.

Three key aspects of this case study are:

  • Gram Vikas believes in high quality solutions that should be 'cost effective' rather than 'low cost'. Toilets and separate bathrooms are constructed, as well as three taps in each house, one each for the kitchen, bathroom and toilet. The aim is to provide water for 24 hours a day in all villages. This in turn leads to a high willingness to pay and a sense of ownership and pride.
  • There is a high commitment threshold for the programme. Every single household in the community has to agree to participate before it starts. Full coverage with toilets needs to be achieved before any work on water supply starts, with households contributing around 50% of the costs for toilet construction. Households contribute INR 1,000 to a capital reserve fund to pay for extensions and maintain 100% coverage with household connections
  • Schemes are intentionally kept simple and operational manuals and designs are 'de mystified', which means that explanations are given in a language that is easy to understand without technical knowledge.
TitleUnderstanding resource implications of the “plus” in community management of rural water supply systems in India : the case of Gram Vikas in Odisha
Publication TypeResearch Report
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsJavorszky, M, Dash, PC, Panda, PK
Pagination48 p. : 7 fig., 22 tab.
Date Published2015/07
PublisherIRC, Cranfield University, Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS)
Place PublishedThe Hague, The Netherlands
Publication LanguageEnglish
Abstract

This study investigates support given to community service providers in Odisha by Gram Vikas, an internationally acclaimed NGO, and assesses the level of service achieved through this arrangement. Consumers in the best practice villages were found to receive high levels of service and to be very satisfied, confirming the effectiveness of service provision.

The study found that water committees manage the schemes effectively and that there is a high degree of community participation throughout the service delivery cycle. Service providers could further increase professionalisation through regular water quality testing and external auditing of accounts. Tariffs in best practice villages cover recurring costs, including electricity, and are set in cooperation with the community, respecting local preferences.
Gram Vikas was found to give intensive support and capacity building prior to scheme implementation, leading to rather independent service providers. After the initial handholding, support is mostly given on request, which seems to work effectively, because of the good communication channels and quick response by Gram Vikas. The institutional assessment showed very high scores for the enabling support organisation, especially on the leadership and community orientation indicator.

Costs for supporting service providers by Gram Vikas were estimated at INR 33 per person per year for direct support and INR 8 per person per year for indirect support. Initial capacity building and mobilisation was found to cost INR 89 per person, which is about 3% of the capital costs for infrastructure implementation. This is a comparatively high percentage and shows the emphasis put on work with communities before construction starts.

Three key aspects of this case study are:

  • Gram Vikas believes in high quality solutions that should be 'cost effective' rather than 'low cost'. Toilets and separate bathrooms are constructed, as well as three taps in each house, one each for the kitchen, bathroom and toilet. The aim is to provide water for 24 hours a day in all villages. This in turn leads to a high willingness to pay and a sense of ownership and pride.
  • There is a high commitment threshold for the programme. Every single household in the community has to agree to participate before it starts. Full coverage with toilets needs to be achieved before any work on water supply starts, with households contributing around 50% of the costs for toilet construction. Households contribute INR 1,000 to a capital reserve fund to pay for extensions and maintain 100% coverage with household connections
  • Schemes are intentionally kept simple and operational manuals and designs are 'de mystified', which means that explanations are given in a language that is easy to understand without technical knowledge.
Notes

Includes 19 ref.

Citation Key80038

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.