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Role of local Authorities in Water Security: Experience from Kerala, Southern India

Author(s): Nil
Congress: 2008
Author(s): Omana T.K
Ms. Omana T.K is the director of the organisation, RASTA and has been involved in conservation and management of water resources with community partcpation for more than two deacades. Cosnidering her outstanding contributions for rural development espci

Keyword(s): Water, decentralisation, policy, stake holders, community, reforms
AbstractThe Government of Kerala in July 1996 launched peopleís planning campaign as an instrument for decentralized planning in the state of Kerala, India. In this context and considering the fact that there is inadequate coverage of drinking water supply in the rural Kerala, the government decided to permit local bodies (Grama Panchayats) to take up drinking water supply schemes under social service sector . The implications of this policy shift are: attracting more investments, permitting institutional capital flows and improvement in quality, service etc. The process evolved a paradigm shift in resource mobilisation to meet development requirements. This has been achieved by integrating schemes into the local plans, the non-plan surplus from the locally available funds of the GPs and through additionally mobilising local funds from financial institutions, voluntary labour and material contributions from the public and local beneficiaries The project has provided water supply and sanitation facilities in the rural areas of selected districts in Kerala. Their inclusion in the project has been on the basis of their having problems of availability of safe drinking water or water quality, a relatively large population of rural, poor and socially and economically disadvantaged people, poor latrine coverage, lower status of women, poor health status etc. The districts has been selected in terms of the need for water supply and sanitation intervention by a task force constituted by GoK for the formulation of second generation water supply and environmental sanitation programme. This geographically contiguous areas, are inhabited by the most needy people for water and sanitation facilities and hence the selection. This also facilitates efficiency and cost effectiveness in project management. The project is implemented in 80 Grama Panchayats, by adopting a transparent eligibility and self-selection criteria. The overall project development objective is in improving the quality of rural water supply and environmental sanitation service delivery to achieve sustainability of investments. Specifically, the project objectives were: (a) demonstrate the viability of institutional reforms and improved cost recovery by developing, testing and implementing fully the new decentralized service delivery model on a pilot basis; and (b) Build the state's capacity in improved sector management aimed at eventual scaling up of the new decentralized service delivery model (adapted as necessary) statewide. GoK was responsible for providing an enabling policy environment conducive to implementation of the projectís key policy and institutional reforms and providing funds and its own share of counterpart funds. The project with its clearly defined strategies for social action, social intermediation and a community-oriented approach have strengths in implementing developmental programmes through the involvement of the communities. The partnership not only enhanced the sustainability of the project initiatives, but also improved the local capacities. The Beneficiaries were directly involved in planning, designing, implementing, maintaining and monitoring the schemes under the project. They have also mobilized resources for partial capital sharing and met the full Operation & Maintenance cost. The paper describes various role of different stake holders and the process.
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