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LESSONS:

Water Supply and Sanitation Projects in Selected Developing Member Countries

sector: Water and Other Urban Infrastructure and Services | country: China, People’s Republic of India Indonesia Malaysia Philippines Sri Lanka | region: Regional

ADB needs to give serious attention of implementing effective sanitation, hygiene, and health promotion programs in its WSS projects.

An effective demand-side management (DSM) program is a simple and cost-effective alternative to supply expansion, particularly in water-scarce areas. DSM succeeds with political support and appropriate campaigns to promote customer awareness of the need for conservation, as observed in Dalian.

As drinking water requirements account to 2 3 liters per capita per day, they do not have to be met only through a piped water supply. Potable water from water treatment plants, as well as smaller quantities from shallow groundwater, may be better delivered when distributed in bottles, either by the water supply company (WSC) or through public-private partnership. Most tropical areas of DMCs are endowed with sufficient annual rainfall for shallow groundwater to be the most accessible and sustainable source of potable water.

Most water supply and sanitation (WSS) projects experience significant delays in implementation. These delays result from an interplay among institutional, design, policy, and administrative factors that include institutional and capacity constraints commonly encountered in DMCs, overly complex project designs, proliferation of policy requirements of both external funding agencies and recipients, administrative procedures that are not always well understood, and cumbersome domestic procurement procedures and decision-making processes.

Project preparation documents should specify a program of feasible and cost-effective tasks, tailored to the situation at hand, that have a high likelihood of reducing NRW to ‘reasonable’ levels of about 25% 30%, or lower if the situation permits. Leak detection is only one of many options that should be considered. The caretaker approach, currently under development by ADB, is a useful tool to apply coupled with benchmarking the performance of water utilities.

Stakeholders’ roles in planning, implementing, and operating water supply systems have been limited in the projects reviewed in the IES. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to successful participatory development is convincing institutional players that it is indeed possible. Maximizing stakeholder involvement in project decision-making and implementation goes against the institutional culture in some DMCs. Success stories from Malaysia and the Philippines show that often just one committed person can lead the way and achieve customer participation. Consistent with ADB policies that specify the importance of such participation, project designs should make a more concerted effort to realize this objective.

Support for implementing these processes, as in the two tariff study TAs in the PRC, would increase the likelihood of WSCs meeting financial targets and achieving long-term sustainability.

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