Keep it Flowing — Rethinking Community Water Management
December 3, 2010
By Ned Breslin for Circle of Blue
A subtle but important trend in the water sector is only now starting to emerge in developing nations–a shift toward private operators and mobile mechanics is taking place throughout the world, challenging the sector norm in which each community has traditionally been encouraged to operate its own small water utility. There are numerous examples of this, all of which indicate steps in the evolution of community water management.
Private Operator: Jean Marie Vicenny, Rwanda
Jean Marie Vicenny needs water to flow in rural Rwanda or he is out of a job. He is a private water operator responsible for a growing water system in the Kuyonza District, and his business has created 16 full-time jobs in a region with high unemployment, in addition to the 196 kiosk operators who get a small stipend and a set amount of free water. Jean Marie and his employees do well when the people they serve get water.
The system is spring fed, combining household connections and public kiosks scattered over approximately 15 kilometers of Rwanda. Families have options on their levels of service—either public or a yard tap—so nobody goes without. Households are increasingly selecting yard taps, which is encouraging because people should have water as close to their homes as possible. And everyone is serviced, even the ultra poor and vulnerable who are awarded lifeline tariffs that are free or significantly reduced.
If people don’t get water, Jean Marie, his staff, and the kiosk operators do not get paid–so they fix problems quickly, and water flows.
What do you think?