April, 2016

Sustainability of the rural water supply Schemes (RWS) and of the benefits expected to flow from them has emerged as a major issue in the recent times all around the world, especially in the developing countries. This concern has strong valid reasons. Huge financial investments are made by national and international agencies with the expectation that the infrastructures created will deliver health and hygiene benefits continuously to the local communities furthering their livelihoods at least for a decade. But, the reality has belied these expectations. This is specially the case in India. Government of India (GOI) was compelled to introduce a new category- “Slipped Back” -reflecting the habitations which had moved from Fully Covered (FC) to Partially Covered (PC) and/ or Not-Covered (NC), a recognition of fragility of the system. Several factors contribute to the slippage: increase in population, increase in the number of habitations, faulty infrastructure designing, poor operation and maintenance (O&M), water quality affected due to contamination, lowering and/ or depletion of ground water, and reduction in surface water flows as a result of poor rainfall and other climatic factors. It is estimated that, at any given point of time, slipped back habitations account for as high as 20% of the total habitations in the country . Further, it is difficult to capture the status of slippages fully as the phenomenon is highly dynamic, fluctuating almost on a daily basis. This has not only huge financial implications (as public investments will have to be made on a recurring basis) but also renders livelihoods difficult and challenging in rural areas. Read this extract (PDF) here.

Can I get Water Tomorrow? Assessing Sustainability Multi Village Water Supply Schemes Karnataka, India