Community management has become the leading concept for implementing water supply systems in rural areas in developing countries. In the early days it was seen as the answer to large scale breakdown of water supply systems and the failure of government either to provide clean water itself or to devise a system whereby other agencies would supply it reliably and consistently. Now, after more than two decades of applying the concept, it is time to look back and consider the opportunities and constraints of community management in bringing water to the millions of people who need it. Is community management the right way to increase both the sustainability of water supply systems and the coverage of safe and reliable water supply in rural areas? This book is based on the experience gained over 20 years of working to strengthen the capacities of rural communities to manage their own water supply systems. The day-to-day experiences of 22 communities in six different countries - with differing geographical, socio-economic and cultural settings - are at the heart of this book.
Supplemented with research findings, it shows the power and creativity with which community people work to keep their water supply systems operational, and it also shows their struggles and difficulties. The authors bring to life the little things that can go wrong, the nitty-gritty details that are so crucial in making community management work, with clear sympathy for the people in the communities and the project staff working with them.
Ton Schouten is Senior Programme Officer, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, Netherlands.