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Emerging Trends in Rural Water Management REAL-Water Synthesis Report

This report, developed by USAID’s REAL-Water initiative, synthesizes a desk review of emerging trends in rural water services delivery, with a focus on 12 countries (Ghana, India, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, the Philippines, Uganda, and Zambia), drawn from the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) 2021 list of high-priority, priority, and strategically aligned countries. It also maps water service delivery across an array of categories (including institutional and legal arrangements, regulation, monitoring, technical capacities, and financial capacities) and reports on an e-survey conducted among 400 respondents in the rural water supply sector.

Performance and prospects of rural drinking water services in francophone West Africa (EN/FR)

This study looks at the evolution of rural water supply policies in francophone West Africa and the performance of the delegation of rural water services. Since the 1980s, rural water services have been
predominantly managed by community-based organisations. In parallel, many countries have followed a decentralisation process and transferred the mandate for rural water services to the local level.
The six countries reviewed in this study (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal) were selected given their long experience with the delegation of rural water services at the local level, some of
them since the 1990s; and recent reforms in some of these countries towards re-centralisation of rural water mandates and delegation of rural water services at a much wider regional scale (Mauritania, Senegal and Benin). One of the key messages of the report is that the delegation of water services in rural areas is not a panacea, or claiming to be the sole alternative to community-based management. In many countries there is a gap between theory and practice, with alternative models for rural water services delivery co-existing with informal arrangements, where services should have been delegated. Increased efficiencies and better performance of service provision are a key factor for motivating these reforms. West African countries have experimented with clustering/ aggregating/ consolidating infrastructure to delegate rural water services at the scale of several municipalities, a district or a region, including through contracts to regroup several local authorities, such as (i) Design, Build and Operate contracts (DBO), (ii) regional delegation of rural water services, and (iii) intermunicipal arrangements. This study identifies some of the key questions in this ongoing debate, which necessitate further reflection.
• Will the move to re-centralise rural water service authorities improve financing, performance monitoring and asset management?
• Where decentralisation is ongoing, what will the role of local stakeholders (including local government) be in countries that have recently re-centralised the rural water sector? Will they be able to hold service
authorities and operators accountable?
• In contexts where it has been decided not to subsidise rural water tariffs, how should water services delivery be funded sustainably while ensuring equity between rural and urban residents?
• Will regulation evolve to ensure the sustainability of rural water services under delegation?
• In contexts where international expertise is needed to deliver universal rural water services in the short-term, how will local capacity be developed to ensure the sustainability of rural water services in
the long-term?


Cette étude porte sur l'évolution des politiques d'approvisionnement en eau potable (AEP) en milieu rural en Afrique de l'Ouest francophone et sur les performances de la délégation des services d'eau en milieu rural. Depuis les années 1980, les services d'eau en milieu rural sont principalement gérés par des organisations communautaires. Parallèlement, de nombreux pays ont suivi un processus de décentralisation et transféré le mandat des services d'AEP au niveau local.
Les six pays examinés dans cette étude (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritanie, Niger et Sénégal) ont été sélectionnés en raison de leur longue expérience en matière de délégation des services d'eau ruraux au niveau local, dont certains depuis les années 1990, et des réformes récentes dans certains de ces pays vers une re-centralisation des mandats de l'eau rurale et une délégation des services d'eau rurale à une échelle régionale beaucoup plus large (Mauritanie, Sénégal et Bénin). L'un des messages clés du rapport est que la délégation des services d'eau dans les zones rurales n'est pas une panacée et ne prétend pas être la seule alternative à la gestion communautaire. Dans de nombreux pays, il existe un fossé entre la théorie et la pratique, avec des modèles alternatifs de fourniture de services d'eau en milieu rural coexistant avec des arrangements informels, alors que les services auraient dû être délégués. L'augmentation de l'efficacité et l'amélioration de la performance de la fourniture de services sont des facteurs clés qui motivent ces réformes. Les pays d'Afrique de l'Ouest ont expérimenté le regroupement / l'agrégation / la consolidation des infrastructures pour déléguer les services d'eau ruraux à l'échelle de plusieurs municipalités, d'un district ou d'une région, y compris par le biais de contrats visant à regrouper plusieurs autorités locales, tels que (i) les contrats de conception, de construction et d'exploitation (DBO), (ii) la délégation régionale des services d'eau ruraux, et (iii) les arrangements intercommunaux. Cette étude identifie certaines des questions clés de ce débat en cours, qui nécessitent une réflexion plus approfondie.
- Le mouvement de recentralisation des autorités chargées des services d'eau en milieu rural améliorera-t-il le financement, le suivi des performances et la gestion des actifs ?
- Lorsque la décentralisation est en cours, quel sera le rôle des acteurs locaux (y compris les collectivités locales) dans les pays qui ont récemment recentralisé le secteur de l'eau en milieu rural ? Seront-ils en mesure de demander des comptes aux opérateurs et aux autorités délégantes?
- Dans les contextes où il a été décidé de ne pas subventionner les tarifs de l'eau en milieu rural, comment financer durablement la fourniture des services d'eau tout en garantissant l'équité entre les résidents ruraux et urbains ?
- La réglementation évoluera-t-elle pour garantir la viabilité des services d'eau ruraux en cas de délégation ?
- Dans les contextes où l'expertise internationale est nécessaire pour fournir des services d'eau ruraux universels à court terme, comment les capacités locales seront-elles développées pour assurer la durabilité des services d'eau ruraux à long terme ?

Water, Sanitation and Disability in Rural West Africa Enhancing Access and Use of WASH facilities

A summary Report of the Mali Water and Disabilities Study
March 2010

Stop the rot: handpump functionality, corrosion, component quality and supply chains Action research in sub-Saharan Africa

The 'Stop the Rot' initiative documents the scale and extent of rapid handpump corrosion and the use of poor-quality handpump components in sub-Saharan Africa and tries to bring about actions to address these problems. These two interlinked issues contribute to poor handpump performance, rapid handpump failure and poor water quality, all of which can ultimately lead to abandonment of the handpump sources, thus forcing users to return to contaminated or distant water supplies.

The first report estimates the reliance on handpumps in sub-Saharan Africa, reviews the literature on handpump functionality and performance, and synthesises information on handpump technical quality from various studies and assessments.

The second report examines handpump corrosion in detail, with an overview of what is known and what has been done to address the issue in specific SSA countries and by select organisations.

The third report reflects on the existing guidance on handpump quality assurance, collates examples of poor-quality components, and examines handpump supply chains through a case study of Zambia.

Global prospects to deliver safe drinking water services for 100 million rural people by 2030 REACH working paper 12

The climate crisis and global pandemic have accelerated the urgency of providing safe
drinking water services around the world. Global progress to safe drinking water is
off-track with uncertain and limited data on the extent and performance of rural water
service providers to inform policy and investment decisions. This report documents
a global diagnostic survey to evaluate the status and prospects of rural water service
providers from 68 countries. The service providers describe providing drinking water
services to a population of around 15 million people through over 3 million waterpoints.

The data provides information on the scale and sustainability of rural water services to
• The extent and type of professional water service provision in rural areas globally;
• Self-reported metrics of operational and financial performance; and,
• The size and scope of current rural service providers that could transition to resultsbased

Five major findings emerge. First, most service providers aim to repair broken
infrastructure in three days or less. Second, almost all service providers reported at least
one type of water safety activity. Third, most service providers collect payments for water
services. Fourth, about one third of service providers reported major negative shocks to
their operations from the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifth, non-governmental service providers
in low income countries less often report receiving subsidies for operations, and more
often report paying part of user fees to government, including through taxes.
Most rural water service providers are working towards provision of affordable, safe and
reliable drinking water services. Key barriers to progress include sustainable funding
and delivery of services at scale. We propose four conditions to promote scale and
sustainability based on policy alignment, public finance, professional service delivery,
and verifiable data. To illustrate these conditions, we consider the differing context and
service delivery approaches in the Central African Republic and Bangladesh. We conclude
by identifying a group of 77 service providers delivering water services for about 5 million
people in 28 countries. These 77 service providers report operational metrics consistent
with a results-based contracting approach. Technical assistance might support many
more to progress. We argue that government support and investment is needed to
rapidly progress to the scale of 100 million people to provide evidence of pathways to
universal drinking water services for billions more.

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