Solution Exchange discussion: Ways to improve O & M of rural water supply schemes in Odisha

Experiences and referrals

From Brecht Mommen, UNICEF, Bhubaneshwar

I work for UNICEF in Orissa as the WASH specialist. My main task is to provide support in improving access to water supply and sanitation in rural areas. I have found that access to safe water have been largely undermined by poor operation and maintenance (O&M). The contributing factors are:

  • Poor ownership and awareness by communities about their rights and responsibilities
  • Poor capacities,  willingness and ownership by panchayats to maintain water supply systems
  • Limited accountability mechanisms for citizens to hold panchayats accountable for the provision of safe water
  • Lack of spare parts and tools
  • Limited availability of mechanics and lack of motivation/incentives

To overcome this, and improve rural water supply, I am seeking instances where better O&M has improved the water supply. I would like to learn of the modalities that have helped improve O&M and consequently, the availability and quality of water. Of special interest is the involvement of women’s groups and the private sector. I also want to know of accountability mechanisms. I am looking for examples from all parts of India

For this, I request the Community members to share their experiences regarding:

  • Are their examples where O&M issues been addressed, reducing the downtime of safe water sources, while also limiting the pollution of the groundwater in a sustainable way?
  • What are the drivers for this improved O&M?
  • What accountability mechanisms have been found to be effective?
  • Have these been documented, or do they need to be documented? I request members to share existing documents

Your responses will help us devise ways to improve O&M issues in rural water supply in Orissa.

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