How to Build Better, More Sustainable Water Services
As news of California’s increasing water shortages, Jessica Graf shares an article on water supply systems in Nepal and how to build better, more sustainable services.
In Nepal, community-based management of water systems through local water user committees is very common. While the approach has been widely promoted in the past, the results are below expectations: Currently, around 75% of the water systems are not fully functional. Oxfam decided to tackle this problem and partnered with LeFil Consulting to develop innovative strategies aiming at finding more sustainable approaches.
Based on the finding that most malfunctions can be explained by the financial non-viability of water schemes, LeFil’s team decided to go to the root of this problem. After visiting dozens of water systems in the Hills districts and Terai region, and collecting quantitative and qualitative data on technical, social, financial and governance factors, LeFil built a financial model capturing revenue streams and expense items of individual water systems. Based on this analysis, the team identified the major levers that would lead to reduced costs and/or higher income over the long term. These solutions include:
Outsourcing pipe laying to local professionals
Ensuring that a sufficient share of the population has paid for a household water connection before the water system is constructed
Introducing automated billing through mobile phone credit or pre-paid cards
Centralising and outsourcing the management of financial accounts
Outsourcing operations and maintenance to local professionals
These suggestions were discussed with relevant stakeholders, including representatives of the Gaunpalikas (rural municipalities), and relevant private-sector partners were identified.
Oxfam is currently planning a pilot to test these levers with the aim to develop, over the long term, a national multi-stakeholder coalition to implement them at scale. Potentially, these solutions may be rolled out to hundreds of water schemes across Nepal over the next few years.
Learn more about LeFil’s approach and the results of this project by checking out this podcast
For more detailed information about the project and the solutions proposed by LeFil Consulting, in this report.