Objective="Availability and management of safe drinking water to semi-arid areas."
Details for Reform Option "Aapni Yojana: Safe Drinking Water in villages of Rajasthan."
Availability of safe drinking water is a pre-requisite for good health. Churu, Hanumangarh and Jhunjhunu districts of Rajasthan, lacked surface water and the ground water was saline. The situation worsened during summers when drought was common. To tackle the water shortage in these districts the Aapni Yojana scheme was designed in 1994 to supply drinking water from Indira Gandhi Canal to 1000 villages and 11 towns at an affordable price. The overall objective was to improve the health status of the population. The challenge was to convince a mostly illiterate user community to own and manage the local system and to contribute to the general cost of its operation and maintenance. The work started from 1997 and the first phase of the project was completed in March 2006. By then the project had expanded to 370 villages and two towns, covering, 20,000 square kilometres and 900,000 people. It is benefiting mainly those engaged in agriculture and animal rearing.
Funding for the first phase of the project was provided by the Government of India (GoI) and the German government, through its development bank, Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau (KfW). The project had two main components, technical and complementary. The technical component was overseen by the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) through its Project Management Cell (PMC), headed by the Chief Engineer. It included construction of treatment plants, pumping stations, reservoirs and laying pipelines. The complementary component aimed to ensure sustainability and enhance benefits, and was implemented by the Community Participation Unit (CPU), a consortium of five leading Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) of Rajasthan. The Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), Jaipur was the nodal agency of the consortium.
A year prior to the commencement of construction of infrastructure inputs, health education programmes were organised. Various strategies were used to mobilise the community such as media channels, personal contact with women’s groups were made by project field workers, through Aganwadi workers, health workers and Panchayat (local self government) members.
The project area was separated out according to topography and water demand. Norms of water supply per person were decided upon and following the local method, the payment model was made. Thereafter, began the construction or installation of the following:
i) four water treatment plants
ii) two raw water reservoirs
iv) eight pumping stations
v) dedicated electricity grid
vi) drainage system
vii) voice communication system
viii) Public Stand Points (PSP)
In urban areas there are two types of connections, either individual or PSP for poorer localities. In villages, each cluster has a PSP. The project ensured that women were involved in identifying the location of the PSP in the village clusters.
For the management and maintenance of facilities, the project developed various mechanisms such as the formation of Water and Health Committees (WHC) in each village with members elected by villagers. Before the work began the WHC and PMC signed a legal agreement defining rights, responsibilities and accountability of both parties. The WHC oversees all activities such as determining the water requirement, the model for and collection of water charges, selection of sites, water troughs for cattle, PSP, record keeping, ensuring participation of women and voluntary trench digging in the villages. Water Management Group (WMG) was formed in each village comprising of members of the WHC and PSP attendants. In addition, from 2000, the project formed Paani Panchayats (local water bodies elected by the people) to manage disputes over water distribution between two or more villages. The Pani Panchayat was also involved in organising free health camps for children and planting trees.
The project networked with government to sanction a special tariff structure for the Aapni Yojana. It organised capacity building programmes for local stakeholders, users and caretaker training on minor repairs to the existing village pipeline.
Villagers have devised an innovative billing system for individual households depending on the number of units (‘angas) in the household. For example, one ‘anga’ for human being, one ‘anga’ for cows or buffaloes and one ‘anga’ for every 5 sheep or goats.
The project has been able to reduce the drudgery of women as they had to carry water over long distances. The project had achieved the following by March 2006:
i) Water provision round the clock to 370 villages and two towns.
ii) Water availability in 92% of targeted villages.
iii) 98% of village clusters have legalised WHCs to represent beneficiaries, and they have entered in contracts with the PMC for planning, operations and maintenance.
iv) 13 Paani Panchayats have been formed to protect the interest of villagers.
v) Reported water loss is in range of only 2 %.
vi) Over 90% pay regularly towards user charges and contribute towards repair and maintenance.
vii) The end line evaluation report shows 91% of the PSPs were functional and 84% of them had attendants to take care of them. Of these 94% attendants were found to be trained. Soak pits were found in about 50% of the PSPs visited.
A general feature that was noticed in all villages was that after the commission of the project, water consumption increased manifold with correspondingly high water bills. This was the result of severe drought conditions after which people believed that water would not be available continuously. The villagers maintain the internal water system and no villages have defaulted paying bills. The villages have actively participated in trench digging for pipe laying and participation in all works of the project. Self Help Groups (SHGs) have also been formed to enhance income generation of the community.
The first phase of the project was funded by the government of Rajasthan (25%) and the government of Germany through KfW. The cost of the technical component of the project was approximately INR 364 crore. This excludes the community participation activities carried out by the CPU to complement the technical activities.
The first phase covered 370 villages in Churu, Hanumangarh and Jhunjhunu districts of northern Rajasthan and two towns (Taranagar and Sardarsahar) from Churu.
Preparatory phase: 3 years.
Programme implementation phase: 8 years
The project was approved in 1994. The initial phase was preparatory and was spent on developing mechanisms for making the project operational. The project work started in 1997 mainly to garner support for the programme and the actual construction of sanitation units started in January 1998. The first phase of the project was completed in March 2006.
Constant supply: Water is available 24 hours a day in the villages.
Simple payment methods: Villages have one meter and villagers pay their dues.
Health benefits: More awareness of health and hygiene.
Economic prosperity: Women have started income generation activities in the villages.
Improved community participation: Maintenance of the safe drinking water facility by villagers.
Management: Coordination and integration between social and technical wings of the project is crucial for successful implementation of the project. Negotiation and agreement on institutional arrangement for O&M and project governance needs to be done.
Systematic water quality control at the tail end villages.
Illegal connections in the villages.
Water Tariff: Water tariffs need to be revised from time to time to cover O&M cost and for maintaining the level of service.
Cost recovery in semi-urban systems is a challenging issue.
Community Participation: An innovative institutional set up for the construction or maintenance and sustenance of the efforts.
Payment of bills: Support drought-proof Income generation activities to ensure ability of the poor to pay the water bills.
Sustainability: Sufficient time to assess the mechanisms set-up by the project to ensure availability of water and payment of bills. Contract agreement between service providers and community on the level of responsibility and commitment to the project.
Cultural ethos: In the villages, the customs and traditions of target communities should be respected and addressed before starting the work.
Community participation, especially that of women as they are not involved in community decision making process though they are responsible for fetching water.
Initial capital for construction of water distribution.
Availability of skilled construction workers.
Good rapport of project staff with community.
Inter-sectoral and inter-department coordination.
Availability of spare parts and tools of specified quality near pumping station.
Who needs to be consulted
Chief Engineer, PMC, District:Churu.
Project Director, CPU, District:Churu.
Kfw Office, New Delhi.
NGO consortium for feedback: Director, Indian Institute for Health Management & Research, District: Jaipur; Vice chancellor, Gandhim Vidya Mandir, District: Churu; Project Director, Bhoruka Charitable trust, District: Churu; Executive Director, IIRM, District: Jaipur & Secretary, URMUL Setu Society, District: Bikaner.
The project is likely to continue, provided there remains an institutional set up for the maintenance of the project ensuring community participation, especially of women and ensuring that water charges are paid regularly.
It is sustainable if the mechanisms built for managing water in the village and between the villages stays operational.
Chances of Replication
The program is replicable in areas where there is scarcity of water. Presence of committed NGOs to oversee community participation in distribution and management of water will be beneficial.
On similar lines, a project entitled ‘Churu Visau project’ was sanctioned in 2000 by central government to make water available to towns. GoI sanctioned 119 crores.
Delay in project implementation (Phase one), which was supposed to be completed by 2003 was completed until the end of March 2006. Staff fluctuation in PHED may have affected the working of PMC.
The feeling of ownership amongst community makes the project sustainable. However, the sustainability in urban areas is doubtful. No follow up plans made after the CPU support is over for villages – many village committees and Pani Panchayats still need back up support
Dr. Nandini Roy, Research Consultant, National Institute of Medical Statistics, June 2005.
Last updated : July 2006.