Most rural water supply systems in Latin America are community managed. However, many under-perform. In Honduras, for example, about 37% of the rural water systems face major problems. Monitoring is one way to improve service delivery performance. It provides service providers with the information they need to take corrective action and to plan post-construction support.
The IRC and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have been helping El Salvador, Honduras and Paraguay to develop and implement rural water monitoring systems. They developed and tested a multi-stakeholder phased approach, which started off by identifying useful elements from existing practices. This knowledge was used to design the system and assign responsibilities to the different stakeholders. The final step involved finding out how much it all costs and who has to pay. In El Salvador the costs for establishing baseline data were about US$ 0.39 per rural inhabitant. The costs for annual decentralised monitoring were 0.11 US$/person/year. To this, a one-off cost of building capacity of local stakeholders has to be added, equivalent to about US$ 0.08 per year. Based on two pilots, monitoring costs in Honduras were in the range of US$ 0.24-0.34 per person.
IRC has shared their experiences in the development of rural water monitoring systems in blog posts, at the IRC Symposium 2013: Monitoring Sustainable WASH Service Delivery and in a webinar. The IDB will publish a guide on rural water supply monitoring later in 2013.