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Understanding the resource implications of the ’plus‘ in community management of rural water supply systems: concepts and methodology.

The Community Water Plus research project studies a sample of twenty of the most successful community-managed rural water programmes in India, examining what type, extent and style of supporting organisations that are prevalent in the rural water supply chain and the resource implications of this. The conceptual framework and methodology described in this working paper are believed to be of relevance beyond this specific research project, and can be used by other studies into support to community-managed rural water supplies. 

Why is this tool needed?

Community-based organisations have shown to be able to operate and maintain their water supplies on a day-to-day level. But they often need support in addressing challenges that are beyond their capacity, such as major replacements. In India - as elsewhere - a range of support mechanisms have emerged to help community-based organisations in overcoming these challenges. However, little insight exists in the different institutional modalities for structuring such support, the relation between the support entity and service providers and the costs of providing support. This tool helps systematically assess those aspects of support to community management.

How is the tool structured?

The tool consists of two parts:

  • Part A: conceptual framework. This Part defines key concepts such as service provider, enabling support entities, the spectrum of community participation and the life-cycle costs of service provision;
  • Part B: methodology. The methodology starts with presenting the assessment framework pictured below. It provides the detailed methodology for assessing each of the 6 components of the research: 1) the enabling support environment and its performance, 2) the resources dedicated to support by the enabling support entity, 3) the community service providers and their performance, 4) the service levels received, 5) contextual factors and 6) the trajectory through which the support arrangement has developed.

It must be noted that this tool has been developed in the context of a very specific research project. The assessment framework and the recommended data collection tools (which are available from the authors upon request) are considered to be relevant for any study into post-construction support arrangements.