Need experiences in improving water and sanitation governance by PRIs, from SEUF, Kerala

Original Query: V. Kurian Baby, Socio-Economic Unit Foundation (SEUF), Kerala
Posted: 3 August 2006

Reforms in water and sanitation (watsan) sector have by now become institutionalized through: (a) pilot testing of alternate service delivery models by donors and GoI in selected locations and subsequent scaling up into programmes such as Swajaldhara and TSC across the country; (b) evidences of community acceptance, confidence and credibility in genuine reforms (c) demonstrated willingness to pay for assured, reliable and quality water services demonstrated at community level and (d) vesting watsan governance as a desirable responsibility to PRIs.

In Kerala, the Jala Nidhi programme is being implemented in selected 80 Gram Panchayats of 4 districts with the objective of assisting the Government of Kerala in improving the quality of rural water supply and environmental sanitation service delivery and to achieve sustainability of investments in the water sector. The programme covers partial capital costs and full cost sharing of O&M and has received an excellent response.

Experiences of the programme in various Gram Panchayats has shown that the success of the programme has helped political representatives to derive positive mileage from the programme, which could have been one of the factors responsible for their re-election for a second term.

Although the degree and nature of correlation between water sector governance and political prospects is yet to be adequately explored, effective watsan governance seems to make good political sense to PRIs. Yet, decentralized and sustainable service delivery is still in its infancy across the country.

In the above context, I request members to share their experiences on the following:

  • Experiences from other parts of India where PRIs have effectively implemented watsan service delivery programmes.
  • The institutional, political, technical, capacity-building and/or other factors that prevent gram panchayats from effective implementation of watsan reforms
  • Suggestions on enhancing the buy-in of political institutions (including gram panchayats) for good watsan governance and long term sustainability.
  • Evidence, if any, to corroborate the correlation between improved watsan governance and political/electoral prospects.

Please see attachment below for the responses.