Decentralized models for providing safe drinking water in rural areas - Need case studies and experiences

From Shital Lodhia, Centre for Development Alternatives (CFDA), Ahmedabad
Posted 30 April 2008

I work as Assistant Professor at the Centre for Development Alternatives, Gujarat.

We conduct research issues related to drinking water supply and would like to compile case studies of successful models of decentralized water supply in India, leading to the development of a flexible model for the country.

India has to ensure that all habitations have access to safe drinking water sources to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. It is also obliged to do so under other international treaties. However, in spite a strong commitment at all levels of government, and significant progress on the ground, much remains to be done.

The latest data from the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation indicates that 11% of all habitations are not covered and 22% are partially covered. Further, 15% of habitations suffer from acute water quality problems and are identified as “unsafe source villages”. The Department also admits to a failure rate of 15% that means, this number of water sources are not up to the mark as per safe drinking water criteria.

To cover all habitations will therefore require a fundamental change in the approach we are currently using. The uncovered, slipped back and partially covered habitations require a decentralized approach, with strong community involvement. The solutions lie in various technical and non-technical options including desalinization plants, dew water harvesting, rainwater harvesting, and rejuvenating old local sources.

It is important to see how technically and financially feasible such options are in various regions. It is also important to ensure the involvement of the local administration, political setup, and communities.

I would like to request the members of Water Community to share the following:

  • Experiences which indicate administrative achievability of drinking water supply by involving local people
  • Examples of decentralized models, which demonstrate technical viability and suitability in terms of local demand (supported by documentation)
  • Experiences with projects, especially those using a decentralized approach, that have demonstrated financial sustainability in terms of long lasting solutions for operation and maintenance system
  • Experiences with participative processes that have proved instrumental in supporting and promoting decentralized programmes

The experiences of ongoing efforts shared by members will help us to develop a flexible model that is replicable in other geographical areas.

Please see attachment below for the responses.

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