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Key challenges in the governance of rural water supply: lessons learnt from Tanzania

Author: Alejandro Jiménez - May 2010

Author: Alejandro Jiménez
Director: Agusí Pérez Foguet
Research group: GRECDH
Defense date: 17th of May 2010
More information (includes a pdf of the PHD thesis)

The first objective of this PHD thesis is the identification and analysis of the key aspects for the governance of the rural water services in countries that suffer low levels of coverage, high levels of poverty or are involved in decentralization processes, and receive an important support from international donors. This situation is common for a lot of countries in Subsaharian Africa. For this reason
Tanzania was chosen as a study case.

The second objective of this PHD thesis has been to test new institutional tools and mechanisms for the improvement of the efficiency, equity and sustainability in the provision of water to rural areas, specially stressing in the decentralized government level. For this reason pilot experiences were developed as well as action-research processes. 

The researcher,
Alejandro Jiménez has developed a methodology for the development of more complete indicators of access to water, taking as a reference the Water Point Mapping-WPM. The proposed methodology, named "Mapeig Millorat de Punts d'Aigua" (improved water point mapping), includes the measurement of the basic parameters of water quality and seasonality of services. The feasibility and pertinence of the adoption of this methodology at national level was developed satisfactorily as a pilot experience in two districts of Tanzania, with a rural population of approximately 840.000 persons.

The PHD thesis also analyzes the sustainability of the rural water services in reference to the technology used for the water supply, taking as a reference data from 6814 water points, of a population equivalent to the 15% of the rural Population of Tanzania, and the decision-making process, from the state level to the communitarian level, on the assignment of water resources in the rural sector. The results in the four districts studied show that less than half of the projects carried out are assign to zones with low services coverage. The lack of coherence between the design and the implementation of the national plans and the influence of the local political power, are the main obstacles for an equitable distribution of the resources. 

As a conclusion of this research, The PHD thesis proposes that the resolution of the current rural water governance challenges implies the adoption of the following paradigms: i) acceptation of the rural water as a service that is a responsibility of the government and not of the communities; ii) the definition of the actions based on the community needs and not of the demand capacity, iii) establishment of internal information systems that rise from the local level and adapt to the available capacity actions, iv) development of mechanisms for the guidance and monitoring of local decision-making processes.